While most people have heard of diabetes, not as many people understand the vision-related complications. The increased glucose levels that are the essence of the disease can harm your eyes in a couple of ways.
Diabetes can hurt your eyes in a number of ways, particularly when the disease is uncontrolled.
One of the primary ways that diabetes can affect your eye is by damaging the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is one of the most prominent causes of blindness in adults.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is essential for proper vision. Damage to the retina can cause permanent blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not completely eliminate the risk and this is why it is essential to have your eyes checked at least once a year if you have diabetes.
Periodic fluctuations in glucose levels, which are common when diabetes is uncontrolled, can cause aberrations in the crystalline lens of the eye. Since glucose levels are associated with the ability of your lens to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurred vision that changes with glucose levels.
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and can also develop as a result of living with diabetes. Even though many people develop cataracts as they age, the risk of having the condition earlier is increased in diabetics.
Glaucoma, which is caused by increased interoptic fluid pressure, can lead to vision loss. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
Having your diabetes in control is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. In addition to maintaining proper glucose levels by means of proper nutrition and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is imperative to have annual retinal exams with an eye doctor to identify any damage at the earliest stages. While often vision loss that results from diabetic eye disease of any kind is irreparable, further damage can be prevented by early detection.