Most people with diabetes are aware that the condition can affect different parts of their body, such as the heart, kidneys, and feet. However, many patients are not aware that diabetes can also affect their eyes and vision.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to be aware of how the disease can affect your eye health and vision. This is especially true because diabetes can lead to serious eye problems if not treated. In fact, diabetics are four times more likely to develop blindness than those without the disease.
Here’s a look at some of the ways diabetes can impact your eyesight, as well as what you can do to keep your eyes healthy.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetes affects how the body uses blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. If the level of blood sugar is too high, particularly over time, it can damage the blood vessels in the back of the eyes which may then leak fluid or cause swelling.
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye diseases, and these include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, diabetic macular edema, and glaucoma. These conditions can damage the eyes and result in poor vision or blindness, and there are often no symptoms in the early stages. Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, but the risk of developing diabetic eye disease increases if blood sugar levels and/or blood pressure levels aren’t controlled.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer in the back of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in diabetics. During the early stages of the disease, you may not realize anything is wrong, but dark, floating spots or streaks may appear in your vision in the later stages. If you have diabetes, it is vital to get a diabetic eye exam to avoid vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy.
Cataracts cause the front part of the eye to become cloudy and can make vision blurry or hazy, reduce night vision, increase sensitivity to light, and lead to vision loss over time. Cataracts are common as people get older, but usually develop slowly. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age than people who don’t have diabetes.
Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema is when there’s a build-up of fluid and swelling in the macula, which is the part of your retina used to see while reading, driving, and seeing faces. It damages your central vision and can lead to either partial vision loss or blindness.
Sometimes called “the silent thief of sight” because it can begin with little to no pain or symptoms, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. People who have diabetes have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Keep your blood sugar under control through proper nutrition, regular exercise, and taking your prescribed medication. Watch your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, too, as elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage the blood vessels in your eyes.
Finally, get regular diabetic eye exams. The doctors at Accent Vision Care in Gonzales have the expertise and the technology to spot early signs of diabetic eye disease, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. Book an appointment for a diabetic eye exam today.