Diabetic eye disease refers to a range of vision problems that can affect people who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. While serious, diabetic eye disease is not inevitable. If you have diabetes, there are steps you can take to protect your eyes.
Here are 5 ways diabetes can affect your vision.
High blood sugar levels can cause a fluid build-up in the focusing lens of the eye, resulting in blurred vision. This fluid build-up occurs because excessive sugar causes the fibres of the lens to swell and change shape. In the short term, regulating your blood sugar can correct the condition. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to permanent changes in your ability to maintain clear focus.
Diabetics are 60% more prone to developing cataracts, which is the clouding of the eyes’ normally clear lens. Diabetic patients are also more likely to acquire cataracts at an earlier age and have a faster progression of the disease During cataract surgery the cloudy lens is replaced with a clear artificial lens.
If you have diabetes, you're more than twice as likely to develop glaucoma, a condition that damages the optic nerve in your eye and can result in permanent vision loss. Early diagnosis is crucial, because symptoms typically don't appear until the condition has led to at least some vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in diabetics. It develops when high blood sugar levels damage the retina's tiny blood vessels. The damaged vessels can leak fluid or blood into the eye, causing distorted vision. There are usually no symptoms in its early stages, and by the time symptoms manifest, the patient has likely suffered some vision loss. The longer an individual has diabetes, the higher the chance of developing diabetic retinopathy. Like glaucoma, the earlier diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, the better the outcome.
Diabetic maculopathy is a kind of diabetic retinopathy that affects the macula. Damage to the macula, the area of the eye that facilitates central vision, is referred to as maculopathy. Blood vessels that leak protein into the macula, generating an accumulation of fluid, are the most common cause.
How to Take Care of Diabetic Eyes
The best way to prevent or minimize vision problems related to diabetes is by:
- Having comprehensive eye exams and retinal scans at least once a year
- Following a doctor-recommended diet and taking medication to keep your blood sugar levels in check
- Maintaining safe levels of cholesterol and blood pressure
- Not smoking and restricting your alcohol consumption
- Staying as active as possible by including physical activity in your everyday routine
The good news is that if you have diabetes, adequate care and early detection of any diabetes-related eye issues can help you manage your symptoms and safeguard your eyesight. Schedule an appointment with New Era Eyecare in one of our 7 locations today.
Q: What vision changes may a diabetic encounter?
A: If you have diabetes you may notice some of the following vision changes:
- Flashes of light
- Blurry or wavy vision
- Dark areas or vision loss
- Frequently changing vision — sometimes from day-to-day
Q: How is diabetic eye disease detected?
- A: A complete eye examination with dilatation is used to diagnose diabetic eye disease. It is the only way to detect early indicators of eye disease, which is critical because early treatment for eye disease leads to a better prognosis.
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