While the majority of the population is familiar with diabetes, relatively few understand the eye-related complications. The increased blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can pose a risk to your eyes in a number of ways.
The threat of damage to your eyes is increased when diabetes is not treated. Diabetic eye disease can appear in a few different ways.
The most common diabetic eye disease, called diabetic retinopathy, is one of the primary causes of blindness in adults. This condition is caused by blocked retinal blood vessels due to the elevated blood sugar levels. This leads to blood vessel leakages which results in irreversible retinal damage. Sometimes a process called neovascularization takes place where new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, which may also leak, resulting in further damage.
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is essential for proper vision. Retinal damage can result in irreversible blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not eliminate the risk and consequently it is crucial to have your eyes checked annually if you have diabetes.
Blood sugar levels that change regularly can also affect vision. Due to the fact that blood sugar levels are associated with the ability of your lens to focus, this can result in blurred vision that changes with glucose levels.
Diabetics have a greater chance to develop cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which impacts vision. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops earlier in people with diabetes.
Glaucoma, which is caused by elevated interoptic fluid pressure, can lead to vision loss. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
Having control of your diabetes is the best form of prevention for any of the eye and vision problems associated with the disease. As well as maintaining proper glucose levels by means of proper nutrition and/or insulin, exercise and refraining from smoking can help. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is essential to have regular annual eye exams with an eye doctor to detect any developing damage early on. While often any loss of sight that results from diabetic eye disease in any form is permanent, further loss of sight can be halted by early diagnosis.