Although diabetes rates are rising, few Americans realize the extent of the disease. Diabetes is more severe than a diet without cakes, with nerve damage and amputated legs.

Early warning signs may be present in places Americans might not expect. Eye exams are often able to detect the disease before it becomes more serious.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 54 million Americans between 40 and 74 are pre-diabetic, which puts them at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. “More than 21 million Americans have diabetes, and perhaps of even greater concern, more than 6 million Americans are unaware that they have the disease,”Jorge Cuadros (American Optometric Association) Diabetes Eye Care Expert, University of California School of Optometry Professor

Ocular nerve damage and circulatory damage can lead to cataracts or glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of diabetes-related eye disease. Blood vessels can swell, leak fluid and grow on the retina’s surface. The symptoms include double vision, blurred or spotted eyes, night vision issues and double vision. This condition can lead to permanent blindness.

Optometrists are able to see blood vessels through the skin. They can detect even the smallest abnormalities and help to catch diabetes early. According to AOA surveys, only 4 out of 10 Americans believe that diabetics should have their eyes checked annually.

Healthy vision is best maintained early detection. Diabetic patients with eye damage may take steps to protect them, such as controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure. A patient’s risk of developing diabetic retinalopathy can be reduced by managing their diabetes well.

“It is especially important for individuals who are at high risk for diabetes to visit an eye doctor regularly for dilated eye exams,”Dr. Cuadros.

For more information about eye health and diabetes, visit