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How Does Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?

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If you don’t manage your diabetes well, it can affect the health of your eyes in many ways. In fact, diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in adults. Fortunately, we at Clarity Vision Care can help you prevent or manage most of the eye problems connected to your diabetes. The key to preventing vision loss and eye health problems for people with diabetes is early detection through regular eye checkups.

The term “diabetic eye disease” is actually a group of diseases related to diabetes that can lead to vision loss and blindness — if not detected early and cared for properly. Watching your blood sugar and managing your diabetes can help you reduce your risk for diabetic eye disease and vision loss, in addition to yearly comprehensive eye exams.

Diabetic eye disease symptoms

One of the reasons that regular eye exams are so important in preventing diabetic eye disease is that often these diseases have no early signs. Usually, it’s when the disease progresses that people first notice symptoms. Beginning treatment early can help prevent symptoms from getting worse. These symptoms include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dark spots in your vision
  • Washed out colors
  • Spots or strings called floaters
  • Flashes of lights
  • Eye pain
  • Eye pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with an eye care professional like Hieu Huynh, OD, at Clarity Vision Care as soon as possible.

Eye disease related to diabetes
If you have high blood sugar for an extended period of time, it can damage the blood vessels in different parts of your body, including in your eyes. These damaged blood vessels in your eyes can lead to leaking fluids and swelling. Most diabetic eye diseases start with blood vessel problems.

The most common eye diseases related to diabetes include:

Glaucoma
Glaucoma affects about 3 million people in the United States and is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Unfortunately, people with diabetes are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma — which is caused by the buildup of pressure inside the eye — than people without diabetes.

While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are several treatment options that can help you preserve your vision.

Diabetic retinopathy
This eye disease is the most common of all diabetes-related eye diseases and the leading cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. It occurs when chronic high blood sugar levels lead to damaged blood vessels in your retina, which is in the back of your eye. Over time, these damaged blood vessels can swell and leak, which may lead to blurry vision and eventually lead to severe vision impairment.

Managing your diabetes and getting an annual dilated eye exam can help prevent or delay vision loss.

Cataracts
Cataracts are clumps of protein that form and cloud the natural lenses in your eyes. As cataracts progress over time, it impairs more of your vision. Researchers think that high glucose levels may cause protein deposits to build up in the lenses of your eyes.

Cataracts are common in people as they age, but people with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier and more frequently than those without diabetes, and those cataracts grow more quickly.

For more information on how to prevent, manage, and treat diabetic eye disease, call us at Clarity Vision Care in Richardson, Texas, or make an appointment through our online system.