Diabetes is a chronic disease affecting millions of people worldwide, and its prevalence is rising. Diabetes can affect various organs in the body, but many people are unaware of its impact on eye health. Studies have shown that individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing eye-related complications, which can lead to vision loss and blindness; in fact, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. It is essential to understand how diabetes can impact your eye health and take preventive measures to protect your vision.
Common Eye Conditions in Those With Diabetes
1. Diabetic Retinopathy
One of the most significant eye-related complications associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy affects approximately one in three individuals with diabetes. This condition occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in the retina, leading to swelling and leakage of fluid into the retinal tissue. Over time, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and even blindness if left untreated.
Cataracts are another eye condition that can develop in individuals with diabetes. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision and a decrease in visual acuity. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing cataracts by sixty times the normal amount and are prone to cataracts at a younger age than most. The risk of cataracts also increases with the duration of diabetes.
3. Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic Macular Edema is a condition where fluid accumulates in the macula, the center of the retina, causing it to swell and thicken. This swelling can lead to blurred and distorted vision, difficulty in focusing, and even blindness if left untreated. It is estimated that about one in three people with diabetes will develop Diabetic Macular Edema.
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. People with diabetes are twice as likely as those without diabetes to develop glaucoma, which often has no early warning signs. The risk of glaucoma increases with age, family history of the disease, and high blood pressure.
Prevention and Treatment
In addition to regular eye exams, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of eye damage. The most important thing is to maintain good blood sugar control through diet, exercise, and medications. By keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range, you can reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related complications. You should also quit smoking if you are a smoker, as smoking can increase the risk of eye damage.
Why Annual Exams Are Crucial for Individuals With Diabetes
One of the biggest risks for people with diabetes is that they may not experience symptoms until the eye damage is severe. It is recommended that people with diabetes visit an ophthalmologist at least once a year for a comprehensive eye exam. During the exam, the ophthalmologist will dilate your pupils and look for signs of diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions. They may also perform visual acuity tests and measure the intraocular pressure to check for glaucoma.
Together, We Can Prevent Vision Loss
Diabetes can have a significant impact on eye health and can cause a range of conditions that can lead to vision loss or blindness. At Advanced Eye Care Center, we make sure patients with diabetes get regularly checked to detect any signs and/or symptoms of diabetic eye disease as early as possible.