Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, over time elevated blood sugar levels can cause damage throughout the body with many complications to one’s health and overall wellbeing.
The term “diabetic eye disease” refers to a group of conditions that potentially threaten the eyesight of people with diabetes.
This group of conditions includes:
The most common cause of vision loss among individuals with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy due to damage to the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eyes. While initially, a patient may not notice any symptoms, the complications of diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision problems and even blindness. Moreover, about half of those affected by diabetic retinopathy develop diabetic macular edema— affecting the area of the retina used for reading, driving, and recognizing faces. Diabetes also doubles one’s chances of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk for diabetic eye disease. Also, when diabetes is left untreated and/or high blood pressure and high cholesterol are present, the risk for diabetic eye disease increases even more. Furthermore, women who have diabetes and become pregnant may experience worsening eye problems or develop an acute issue quickly due to the added stress on the blood vessels in the eyes.
For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels by making wise dietary choices, getting regular exercise, and taking medications as prescribed are essential for maintaining eye health. It’s also wise to address high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and quit smoking.
Remember, early detection is critical for the prevention of vision loss from diabetic eye disease. If you have diabetes, visiting our office for a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year and more often as recommended is strongly advised.
In addition to scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam and taking care to control your blood sugar levels, it’s essential that you pay close attention to any changes in your vision. Contact our office right away if you notice any sudden fluctuations or if your vision becomes spotty, blurry or hazy.