Although most people have heard of diabetes, fewer know about the eye-related complications. The increased levels of blood sugar that are the essence of the disease can pose a risk to your eyes in various ways.
There are a few ways that diabetes, particularly when it is uncontrolled, can impact your eyes and vision.
The most threatening diabetic eye disease is one that results in damage to the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is one of the most prominent causes of vision loss in adults.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is an essential component for proper vision. Retinal damage can cause permanent vision loss. While controlling diabetes reduces the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and therefore it is of utmost importance to have your eyes checked annually if you have diabetes.
Daily fluctuations in glucose levels, which are common in situations where diabetes is uncontrolled, can affect the eye's crystalline lens. Since glucose levels have an impact on the ability of your lens to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurred vision that varies with glucose levels.
Diabetics are more likely to develop cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which impacts vision. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops at an earlier age in those with diabetes.
A diabetic is twice as at risk of developing glaucoma, an increase in interoptic fluid pressure which causes optic nerve damage and ultimately blindness.
Controlling your diabetes is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. As well as maintaining proper levels of glucose through diet and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is imperative to have yearly checkups with an eye doctor to identify any damage early on. While often vision loss caused by diabetic eye disease in any form cannot be restored, early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent continuing damage and disease progression.