People with diabetes have bodies that do not handle insulin properly or maintain normal blood sugar. Millions of people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic eye disease, which encompasses different eye problems. They include diabetic retinopathy and macular edema. With time, diabetes can lead to damage that can cause vision loss or blindness.
Diabetes and the Eyes
Diabetes affects the eyes when the blood sugar is too high. It may not be a problem in the short term, but over time, high blood glucose can lead to vision loss. Elevated glucose can alter fluid levels or lead to swelling of the eye tissues, causing blurry vision. The vision usually improves when blood sugar levels normalize.
If the blood sugar remains high over time, it can cause damage to the eye’s blood vessels. The blood vessels can leak fluid and swell, and new weaker vessels may begin to grow. Bleeding vessels can cause scarring and high eye pressure.
Diabetic Eye Diseases
Eye diseases linked to diabetes usually begin with changes in the blood vessels. Bleeding or leaking blood vessels can damage the eyes, resulting in sight-threatening conditions. They include:
Diabetic macular edema
Who Can Get Diabetic Eye Disease?
Approximately one in three people over 40 who have diabetes show some signs of retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss among diabetic patients. Detecting and treating the condition can help reduce the risk of vision loss.
Individuals with untreated high blood glucose and high blood pressure are more likely to develop diabetic eye disease. Habits such as smoking and high cholesterol can increase the risk of the disease.
Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease
In most cases, there are no early signs of diabetic eye disease. Symptoms become evident as the condition progresses. When they occur, common symptoms of the disease include:
Visit an eye doctor if you notice sudden vision changes or experience any of the symptoms. The doctor can help diagnose the eye problems.
Treating Diabetic Eye Disease
Doctors recommend frequent dilated eye exams for people with diabetes to manage it effectively. They must manage blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Advanced eye diseases can be treated using options including medications, laser treatment, vitrectomy surgery, and cataract surgery. If you experience vision loss, an eye specialist can recommend ways to manage the condition.
If not treated, diabetic eye disease can lead to blindness. Making healthy choices such as eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly can help improve your overall health and eye health. Preventive care is the best way to protect your eyes. Your doctor will teach you how to monitor your sugar levels.
Taking cholesterol or blood pressure medications as directed is vital to prevent elevated blood sugar. Depending on the patient’s condition, eye doctors recommend diabetic eye exams more than once annually.
For more on the common signs and symptoms of diabetic eye disease, visit Abraham Eye Associates at our office in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Call (484) 209-0800 to book an appointment today.