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How Diabetes Impacts the Eye

Even though most people have heard of diabetes, fewer know about the effect it can have on your eyesight. The increased glucose levels associated with diabetes are a risk to your eyes in a couple of ways.

Diabetes can cause harm to your eyes in a number of ways, especially when the disease is uncontrolled.

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of vision loss in adults. This condition is caused by blocked blood vessels in the retina caused by the increased blood sugar levels. The blockages lead to leaks in the blood vessels which results in irreversible damage to the retina. Frequently a process called neovascularization takes place where new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, which may also leak, causing additional damage.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is essential for proper vision. Retinal damage can cause irreversible vision loss. While controlling diabetes reduces the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and consequently it is essential to have your eyes checked annually if you have diabetes.

Daily changes in glucose levels, a common condition in situations where diabetes is untreated, can cause aberrations in the crystalline lens of the eye. Due to the fact that 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.

Diabetics have a greater chance 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 develops earlier in diabetics.

Glaucoma, which is a result of elevated interoptic fluid pressure, can lead to blindness. People with diabetes are two times more likely to develop glaucoma.

Having your diabetes under control is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. In addition to controlling glucose levels through diet and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is imperative to schedule regular annual checkups with an optometrist to detect any developing damage at the earliest stages. While it is common that any loss of sight that results from diabetic eye disease in any form cannot be restored, further loss of sight can be stopped by early diagnosis.


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