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  • Writer's pictureIC Optometrist

Diabetes and your Eyesight

Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of people across the globe. It is a chronic disease characterized by raised blood glucose levels – i.e. too much ‘sugar’ in the blood. As such, Diabetes can bring forth a range of complications. One such consequence is its effect on eyesight. In this blog post, we delve into the connection between diabetes and vision impairment, shedding light on the importance of proactive eye care for those managing diabetes.

Diabetic eye disease encompasses several conditions that can lead to vision loss. These complications and conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema, cataracts, and glaucoma. While each condition affects the eyes differently, they can all have underlying systemic Diabetes as a common cause.

If you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, no matter the control of your Diabetes, it is recommended that you have your retina checked yearly. This is because Diabetes can affect the small capillaries and blood vessels in your retina.  Your retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside of your eyeball. Blood vessels in the retina when damaged can cause bleeding, atrophy of the retinal tissue, as well as swelling and scarring. As the disease progresses, it can cause vision impairment, ranging from blurred, distorted vision to complete blindness.

People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing other eye conditions, for example Cataracts. While cataracts are common with age, diabetes can accelerate their development and worsen their severity. Luckily cataracts are readily treatable with surgery and routine follow ups are the best way to keep updated on the progression of cataracts.

Diabetes also increases the risk of Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition characterized by damage to the optic nerve. Diabetes and blood vessel damage can cause secondary elevated intraocular pressure which can lead to optic nerve damage, resulting in gradual peripheral vision loss.

Early detection and management are crucial in preserving vision for individuals with diabetes. Routine eye exams, at least once a year, can help detect diabetic eye disease in its early stages when treatment options are most effective.

Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is paramount in reducing the risk of diabetic eye complications. Once Diabetic Eye Disease has occurred – i.e. in the retina, in the early stages, optimising blood sugar levels with medical therapy is still the recommended management. In later stages of Diabetic Eye Disease, sometimes Laser treatment and eye injections may be necessary to maintain eyesight.

Diabetes casts a wide net of implications on various aspects of health, including vision. By understanding the connection between diabetes and eye health, individuals can take proactive steps to preserve their vision and mitigate the risk of vision loss. Regular eye exams, coupled with effective diabetes management, serve as powerful tools in safeguarding eye health and maintaining quality of life for those living with diabetes. Remember, when it comes to your eyesight, prevention and early intervention are key.



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