Diabetes occurs when your body does not properly process food as energy. When you have diabetes, your body either does not respond to or does not produce insulin, which is a hormone that delivers glucose (blood sugar) to the cells in your body. Having too much glucose in the bloodstream, outside the cells where it belongs, can damage the blood vessels and nerves that run throughout your body, including the eyes.
How does it affects your eyes:
Diabetic eye disease is the group of eye conditions resulting from diabetes. These include:
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that affects your vision. It's caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye (retina). At first, diabetic retinopathy might cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. But it can lead to blindness.The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you will develop this eye complication.
2. Macular edema
The macula — the retina's center that provides sharp, straight vision — can swell due to leaky blood vessels caused by diabetes. This can result in blurred or distorted vision.
High sugar levels can damage the retina’s blood vessels and create abnormal new ones. When new blood vessels grow on the eye’s iris (the coloured part of the eye), it can cause an increase in eye pressure and glaucoma. Glaucoma. One form of glaucoma, neovascular glaucoma, is caused by diabetes.
Cataracts can form earlier and progress faster in people with diabetes due to the blood sugar increase. This creates a cloudy buildup in the eye’s lens, resulting in a cataract.
Hyperglycemia occurs when glucose builds up in the blood when the body lacks enough insulin to process it. In addition to blurred vision, other symptoms of hyperglycemia include headache, fatigue, increased thirst and urination.
Managing your glucose levels to avoid hyperglycemia is important because, over time, poor blood sugar control can lead to more problems with sight and potentially increase the risk of irreversible blindness.
How can you protect yourself from diabetic eye problems?
The best way to prevent diabetes-related eye problems is to manage your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Here are some ways you can help prevent eye problems caused by diabetes:
1. Control your blood sugar
Your doctor can provide direction on keeping your blood sugar normal and avoiding fluctuations that can lead to diabetic eye diseases. “In addition to getting your eyes checked, it’s also very important to keep the blood sugars under control,” says Cai. “This is not only good for you overall but also good for your eyes.”
2. Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
Get recommendations from your doctor on combatting high blood pressure and cholesterol because these can worsen diabetic eye disease.
3. Stop smoking
Smoking can cause further damage to your blood vessels, including the ones in your eyes, so it’s very important to stop smoking.
4. Avoid harmful rays
Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses. Exposure to these rays can speed up the progression of cataracts.
Blurred vision is a common symptom of diabetes, but it can also be a sign of other health problems. That's why you should report blurry vision and other vision changes to your doctor.
In many cases, early treatment can correct the problem or prevent it from getting worse.
Subscribe to our blogs