How Diabetes Affects the Eyes
- Posted on: Oct 10 2018
In the United States, nearly 26 million Americans are living with diabetes, and another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. This means that about 1/3 of Americans are or may soon be affected by the condition. Eyes can be severely impacted by diabetes as well as other organs like our kidneys.
Diabetes can negatively affect our vision and eyes in multiple ways. Diabetes accelerates cataract progression. This means typically, that the naturally-clear lens in our eyes gets cloudy earlier than those without diabetes. Fluctuation in blood sugar can cause fluctuation in vision. Getting glasses made when blood sugar is fluctuating can lead to glasses that are clear on some days and blurry on other-depending on blood sugar.
Diabetes can cause changes in the back of our eyes as well. Diabetes can cause bleeding in the back of our eyes that interferes with our vision. This blood may dissipate over time, but some patients need injections or laser treatments to prevent the eye from bleeding in the future. Diabetes can also cause swelling in the retina which distortions vision; straight lines may appear curved or wavy.
For patients with diabetes with no known ocular complications, a dilated eye exam is recommended each year. For patients with complications, multiple follow-ups per year may be indicated. For advanced eye damage from diabetes, one may need to see a retinal specialist for possible injections, laser treatments, or surgery. Along with recommended eye care follow-up, controlling blood sugar helps to limit ocular complications.
Note the scattered red spots; this represents leaking blood vessels.
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