Unfortunately, many people are not informed about the damage diabetes can have on your eyes and vision. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in elevated blood sugar levels either due to insufficient production of insulin or because the body’s mechanism to make use of insulin is disrupted.
There are a few ways that diabetes, particularly when it is not controlled by medication, diet or exercise, can cause damage to your eyes.
The most serious eye complication of diabetes is one that can lead to destruction of the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is a leading cause of blindness in adults.
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is essential for proper vision. Retinal damage can result in permanent vision loss. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not eliminate the risk and consequently it is of utmost importance to have your eyes checked yearly if you have diabetes.
Blood sugar levels that fluctuate regularly can also affect vision. Since blood sugar levels have an impact on the ability of your lens to focus, this can result in blurred vision that varies with blood sugar levels.
Individuals with diabetes have a greater chance to develop cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which causes vision problems. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops earlier in those with diabetes.
Glaucoma risk in diabetics is twice that of the rest of the population. Glaucoma is an increase in interoptic fluid pressure which causes damage to the optic nerve and ultimately vision loss.
Having your diabetes in control is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. As well as controlling levels of glucose through proper nutrition and/or insulin, exercise and refraining from smoking can help. Additionally, it is essential to schedule regular annual checkups with an optometrist to diagnose any possible damage as early as possible. While in many cases any loss of sight that results from diabetic eye disease of any kind is permanent, further loss of sight can be stopped by early diagnosis.