Does Diabetes Cause Eye Problems?

Diabetes can affect your eyes and vision in several different ways. Consistently high blood sugar can cause severe eye problems. It can contribute to glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy and can even lead to blindness.

Regular visits to your eye doctor can help you keep your eyesight, even if you have diabetes. If you have diabetes, you should schedule regular checkups with your eye doctor and note any changes in your vision. 

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What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that can develop in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It can range in severity from causing no symptoms to causing blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels in your retina caused by high blood sugar. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Spots in your vision
  • Blurred or fluctuating vision
  • Dark areas in your vision
  • Vision loss

It can also cause several other complications, including:

  • Glaucoma
  • Macular edema
  • Retinal detachment
  • Vitreous hemorrhage
  • Vision loss 

The easiest way to prevent these complications is by managing your blood sugar. Besides that, be sure to have regular appointments with your eye doctor. They can track diabetic retinopathy in your eyes and help to manage it as it progresses.

Diabetic retinopathy and normal eye retina.

Am I at High Risk for Diabetic Eye Disease?

The longer you’ve had diabetes, the higher your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. It results from excess sugar in your blood, damaging the blood vessels in your retinas.

The longer you’ve had high blood sugar it’s more likely your retinal blood vessels get damaged. The same is true if you don’t have control over your blood sugar. If it’s out of control, it’s more likely it will damage your blood vessels.

Other risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Pregnancy
  • Tobacco use
  • Black, Hispanic, or Native American heritage

How Are Diabetic Eye Conditions Diagnosed?

If your eye doctor is checking for diabetic retinopathy, you will undergo a dilated eye exam. This painless exam allows them to look inside your eyes.

If they notice issues, they may want to photograph your retina. To do this, they inject dye in your arm that travels to your eye and illuminates blood vessels in your retina.

When Should You See Your Eye Doctor?

You should see your eye doctor at least once a year if you have diabetes. These appointments allow them to track your eye health and your diabetes.

Also, make an appointment anytime you feel concerned about your eyes or eyesight. If you experience any diabetic retinopathy symptoms, schedule an appointment.

How Do You Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?

Mild diabetic retinopathy is treatable by managing your diabetes. If your condition is more advanced, your doctor may recommend more serious treatment.

These could include vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors (anti-VEGF treatment), photocoagulation, or vitrectomy. Anti-VEGF treatment gets injected into your eye to prevent new, weak blood vessels from growing.

Photocoagulation is a laser treatment done in your doctor’s office. It uses light to stop fluid from leaking out of damaged blood vessels into your vitreous.

Vitrectomy is a medical procedure that removes your vitreous, the gel-like substance in your eye. Removing the vitreous allows your eye doctor to remove scar tissue and other abnormalities from your retina.

Usually, diabetic patients need ongoing treatment for eye conditions. Diabetes is chronic and ever-changing and can cause vision loss even after treatment. 

How Can You Prevent Diabetic Eye Problems?

Managing blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol is the best way to keep your eyes healthy. Eat well and exercise regularly.

Don’t smoke, and see your eye doctor at least once a year. If you experience any symptoms, see a doctor right away.

Do you need a diabetic eye checkup? Schedule an appointment at Cobb Eye Center in Marietta, GA, today!

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