The earlier you catch diabetes the better.

It can help you avoid a host of other problems, including one with a link to diabetes that is widely unknown, vision loss.

"There's an old saying that the eyes are the windows into one's soul, but it can also be the windows to one's health," University Health System physician Dr. Patrick Pierre said.

The faster you see that your vision could be worsening because of diabetes, the faster you can do something about it.

Dr. Pierre says their Iris test, which is just over a year old, is meant to detect diabetic retinopathy, a growth of abnormal blood vessels.

Dr. Pierre said, "We can capture some of the changes that occur and it do something about it before it can lead to damage."

All diabetics are at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, but only three out of five diabetics are aware of the link between diabetes and vision loss.

It is the number one cause of vision loss in adults between 20 and 74, occurs in 90 percent of diabetic patients, and affects 5.3 million Americans.

Dr. Pierre said, "The machine that we actually use allows us to get a clearer picture, a better picture than you might typically get at just a regular optometrist."

The test is done at the same location as a regular doctor's appointment at University Health System locations, and the results are read by an ophthalmologist.

"We can intervene and do some changes that can occur before it affects their vision before it can lead to blindness," Dr. Pierre said.

But the only way doctors have any chance of intervening is for you to take charge of your overall health.

Dr. Pierre added, "That's why it's important that everyone should talk to their primary care physician about their health and about some of the screening tests that need to be done to maintain their health."

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