Are you aware that having diabetes increases the risk of developing a number of eye-related diseases? Generally, these include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts, plus many other conditions that, even if they're seemingly unrelated to your sight, may worsen your vision.
What is diabetic retinopathy? It occurs when excess blood glucose levels cause damage to the retina. It's also a very common cause of blindness in adults.
A pretty common result of old age, cataracts, which lead to a clouding of the eye's lens, and the subsequent worsening of vision, often develop at an earlier age in diabetes sufferers.
Individuals with diabetes are double as likely to develop glaucoma, sometimes referred to as the silent thief of sight, which is can lead to a severe loss of vision. Glaucoma results from a build-up of pressure in the eye, resulting in damage of nerves in the eye and loss of vision.
All diabetes sufferers, type 1 or 2, are at a higher chance of developing diabetic eye disease, even more so if their diabetes isn't adequately dealt with. Other risks include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Race (Hispanics and African Americans may be more vulnerable to vision loss and diabetic retinopathy).
Symptoms of diabetic eye diseases usually vary when blood sugar levels do. These generally include:
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Blind spots or blurry vision
- Seeing floaters, or shadow in the field of view
- Trouble with near vision
- Corneal abrasions
Unfortunately, these symptoms don't really act as warning signs. The onset of diabetic eye disease can actually occur before its symptoms do.
Early detection can often mean the difference between sight and total blindness and is usually a prerequisite for avoiding subsequent vision loss and recovery of sight, if possible. With this is mind, diabetes patients need to go get a yearly eye exam, to make sure that everything is in check. If you or someone you care for has diabetes, it's so important to be sure you know about the risks and prevention of diabetic eye disease. Annual eye exams, and positive lifestyle choices, can save your vision.