Diabetes is a common disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. More than 34.2 million people are living with diabetes in America. It is a top cause of death in the United States. Some types of diabetes can cause blindness. However, with proper eye care, vision problems due to diabetes can be detected early and treated. request an appointment
How does Diabetes Affect the Body?
Most of the food you eat is broken down into glucose (blood sugar.). When the blood sugar in your body rises, it sends a signal to your pancreas to release insulin into your body’s cells for energy. Diabetes is a disease that occurs which prevents the pancreas from making enough insulin or from using the insulin it makes efficiently.
Three Main Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, (juvenile diabetes) is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age. An autoimmune situation that destroys the cells in the pancreas may prevent insulin production. Approximately 5-10% of people with diabetes have type 1.
Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly occurring type of diabetes. It affects approximately 90-95% of people over age 45. Type 2 diabetes results when the cells in your body become resistant to insulin. The pancreas cannot make enough insulin to get the cells to respond, which causes blood sugar to rise.
Gestational diabetes is a type that can develop during pregnancy. It affects between 2% and 10% of pregnant women in the U.S. During pregnancy, the body doesn’t make enough insulin which causes blood sugar to rise.
Eye Conditions that can Develop with Diabetes
People diagnosed with diabetes can be at a higher risk of developing complications and diseases which affect the eyes. These conditions include:
- Diabetic retinopathy is the primary cause of adult blindness. High blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, where scarring can cause permanent vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is also one of the most preventable causes of vision loss and blindness.Early detection and treatment can prevent or delay blindness due to diabetic retinopathy in 90% of people with diabetes, but 50% or more of them don’t get their eyes examined or are diagnosed too late for effective treatment. People diagnosed with diabetes are also at a higher risk for other eye diseases, including glaucoma and cataracts.To diagnose diabetic retinopathy, your ophthalmologist will perform a dilated eye exam.
- Macular edema is a condition that occurs in the center of the retina, known as the macula. The macula is a portion in the retina that helps produce clear, forward vision. When fluid builds up, the macula swells, and vision is distorted. People with macular edema may suffer blurry vision or significant vision loss. The fluid buildup in the macula is caused by damaged blood vessels in the retina. Blood vessels can be damaged by:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Eye surgery
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Inflammatory disease of the eye
Your optical professional will perform a comprehensive eye exam and look for retina abnormalities to diagnose macular edema.
If tests show you have diabetic retinopathy or macular edema, laser therapy or intravitreal injections can seal leaking blood vessels in the retina. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery.
Eye Care for Diabetics
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you are at risk for diabetic eye diseases. However, you can manage your diabetes so that you don’t compromise your vision.
- Schedule regular visits with your physician to monitor your blood sugar.
- Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can affect the shape of the lens in your eyes, causing blurriness. It can also damage blood vessels in your eyes.
- Eat a low-fat diet high in nutrients, with limited sugar.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk for eye disease and vision loss.
- Exercise regularly to control your blood sugar.
- If you smoke, you should quit! Smoking increases your risk for diabetes-related diseases.
- Schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam to protect and preserve your eyesight and eye health.
Schedule a Consultation with our Optometry practice
If you or your loved one suffers eye problems due to diabetes, schedule a complimentary consultation with our optometry practice today. We’ll use this consultation to gather vital information to help determine if our practice is the best place to receive diabetic eye care for you. Call to schedule a comprehensive vision evaluation today.