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How Diabetes can affect your eyes

People with Diabetes should take note of their eye health at every stage of their life, but in particular as they get older.

The best way for people with Diabetes to take care of their eyes is to also take care of their blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol — the ABC’s of diabetes. It’s also worth considering quitting smoking, and schedule a dilated eye exam each year (contact ilumin for an appointment.)

How diabetes affects the eyes

People with Diabetes can be affected by many eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts. Over time, Diabetes can cause eye damage leading to poor vision or blindness. Diabetes begins to affect the eyes when the blood sugar is too high.

In the short term, it probably won’t cause vision loss. Sometimes it can cause blurry vision or swelling in the eyes. It is temporary, and when the blood glucose normalizes, it will go away.

In the long term, a high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, causing them to leak fluid and swell. They can also leak blood in the middle of the eye, or cause dangerous pressure inside the eye. Most serious diabetic eye issues begin with blood vessel issues.

Four eye diseases can harm a diabetic’s sight

Diabetic Retinopathy 

The retina is the inner lining near the back of each eye. It senses light and turns it into signals that go to the brain. Damaged blood vessels can harm the retina, causing leaking, bulging or weakening.

As the disease worsens, blood vessels can close off, which means new ones grow on the retina’s surface. The abnormal new vessels lead to serious vision problems.

Diabetic macular edema

The part of the eye used for reading and driving is called the macula. Diabetes can make the macula swell and, over time, can destroy sharp vision. It is usually developed in diabetics who already have diabetic retinopathy.

Glaucoma  

People with glaucoma slowly lose vision at the sides of their eyes. Damage to the optic nerve causes it, and it can lead to vision loss and blindness if not treated early.

Cataracts 

The lenses in the eye provide sharp vision, but they can get cloudy as people age. People with Diabetes are more likely to develop cloudy lenses at an earlier age, and researchers think that’s because of higher glucose levels.

How common are diabetic eye issues?

One in three people with Diabetes over the age of 40 may already have signs of diabetic retinopathy, according to some studies.  People with diabetes have twice the chance as people without the disease have of developing glaucoma or cataracts.

What are symptoms of diabetic eye issues?

Many times, there are no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include blurred vision, dark areas in the vision, poor color vision, floaters, flashes of light or vision that changes from day to day.

If you notice sudden changes in your vision, call your ilumin doctor.

Treatment options

Your doctor may treat your eyes with medicine, laser treatments, surgery or a specialized combination of any of the treatments above.

Need to consult with a doctor about your Diabetic eye issues, or need to schedule an exam? Set up your appointment with the ilumin team online today.