While many people have heard of diabetes, they may not be informed about the impact that it can have on your eyes. Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolic process that results in elevated levels of glucose in the blood either due to insufficient production of insulin or because the body's mechanism to utilize insulin is disrupted.
The threat of vision loss is increased when diabetes is not controlled. Diabetic eye disease can come in a number of forms.
The most serious diabetic eye disease is one that can lead to damage to the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This condition is a primary cause of blindness in adults and is called diabetic retinopathy.
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is a necessary component for proper vision. Damage to the retina can result in irreversible vision loss. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not entirely eliminate the risk and consequently it is essential to have your eyes checked each year if you have diabetes.
Glucose levels that change regularly can also affect vision. Since glucose levels have an impact on your lens's ability to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurred vision that varies with blood sugar levels.
Diabetics are at greater risk to develop cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which impacts vision. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but happens at an earlier age in diabetics.
Glaucoma, which is caused by increased pressure in the optic nerve, can cause vision loss. Diabetics are two times more likely to develop glaucoma.
Having control of your diabetes is the best form of prevention for any of the eye and vision problems associated with the disease. As well as controlling levels of glucose through diet and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is imperative to schedule regular yearly retinal exams with an eye doctor to detect any possible problems at the earliest stages. Even though often vision loss that results from any of these conditions cannot be reversed, early diagnosis and treatment can often stop continuing damage and disease progression.