Diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body processes glucose and insulin. It usually results in elevated blood glucose levels. Due to these elevated levels, people with diabetes have a 20 times higher risk of vision loss.
There are three primary eye conditions that people with diabetes are at risk of acquiring. These are cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. They may also experience blurred vision, proliferative retinopathy, and maculopathy. It is crucial to keep blood sugar levels in check and have regular eye exams.
People with diabetes should have more frequent eye exams than those without the condition. This is critical in avoiding vision loss and ensuring early detection and treatment of any visual problems caused by diabetes.
Elevated blood sugar levels can cause the focusing lens in the eye to bulge, resulting in short-term blurred vision. Once the blood sugar returns to normal, the lens returns to its normal shape, and clear vision returns. If the blood glucose level remains high, the vision will remain blurry.
Maculopathy occurs when diabetes affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp vision. Swelling in the macula can range from minor to severe and may be challenging to treat.
Glaucoma is a series of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. The condition typically goes undetected until significant damage occurs. Regular glaucoma screenings can detect early warning signals, enabling earlier treatment and preventing further visual loss. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, most individuals can control their symptoms with eye drops, medicine, and—in rare cases—laser treatment or surgery.
Those with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts early in life than non-diabetics. Cataracts are a clouding or fogging of the lens in the eye and can cause blurred vision and glares. The best treatment option for cataracts is cataract surgery, which is safe and effective.
Diabetic retinopathy stems from weakened capillaries in the retina due to poorly managed blood sugar levels. It can result in the following:
Poor blood circulation
The formation of additional aberrant blood vessels
Bleeding or fluid leaks
There are often no symptoms until the latter stages of diabetic retinopathy. At this point, patients may notice spots and missing patches in their vision. Regular eye exams and early detection can help prevent diabetic retinopathy. The condition is treatable with surgery and injections if necessary.
In proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels form at the back of the eye due to a lack of oxygen. These blood vessels can bleed and cause a clot. This development can lead to scars and a torn retina that can cause irreversible vision loss. This condition is sometimes treatable with surgery or a laser technique that burns away the blood vessels.
If you have diabetes and notice any changes in your vision, it is best to reach out to an eye doctor at Advanced Vision Care. Diabetes puts individuals at a heightened risk of developing the visual issues discussed above. To prevent these potentially harmful and vision-threatening conditions, manage your blood sugar levels and schedule regular eye exams.
For more on diabetes and the eyes, visit Advanced Vision Care in DeSoto, Fort Worth, or Mansfield, Texas. Call (972) 223-5354, (817) 370-2100, or (817) 631-1900 to schedule an appointment today.