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How Can Diabetes Affect My Eyes?

The Importance of Diabetic Eye Care

Diabetes affects millions of Americans – it also affects millions of eyes. If you suffer from diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, it’s important that you’re aware of how the disease can impact your eye health and vision.

At Eye Center South, we want to take time to inform you of the risks and methods of prevention for diabetic eye disease — this starts with helping you understand eye conditions related to diabetes.

How Can Diabetes Affect My Eyes?

Diabetes can have negative affects on your eyes when your blood sugar is too high.
High sugars can cause swelling or changes in your eyes’ fluid levels that result in blurry vision. If your sugar is only high for a short amount of time, the blurriness will clear once your blood sugars have returned to normal levels.

However, if your blood sugar is often higher than it should be, the tiny blood vessels at the back of your eye can become damaged. Once damaged, these vessels can begin to leak and cause swelling. In addition, new blood vessels can begin to grow, which can cause scarring and high pressure in the eye.

This can all lead to a variety of diabetic eye diseases, the most common of which are:

Diabetic Retinopathy

Blood vessels damaged by diabetes can affect the retina, the light-sensitive tissue in the eye that’s responsible for vision. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels can swell and leak, and in later stages of the disease, abnormal blood vessels can grow on the retina.

If untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and even blindness.

Diabetic Macular Edema

High sugars can cause swelling in the eyes, which can directly affect the macula, the part of the retina that is used for reading, driving, and distinguishing faces. This is called Diabetic Macular Edema.

Over time, swelling of the macula can destroy the clarity of your vision and can lead to blindness.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a grouping of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which help translate images from the eye to the brain. It occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside your eyes rises, which can be common for diabetics. That means that if you’re diabetic, your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled.

If glaucoma goes untreated, you’ll experience gradual vision loss.

Cataracts

When your eye’s natural lens becomes cloudy and obstructs or diminishes vision, you have a cataract. A cataract is a very common, age-related condition that can be easily treated with cataract surgery.

However, it’s common for people with diabetes to develop cataracts at an earlier age than those without diabetes. This is thought to be the result of high sugars causing deposits to build up in the eye’s natural lens.

How to Keep Eyes Healthy

Diabetes and Eye Care:

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

At Eye Center South, we’ve used medicine, laser treatments, vitrectomies, and other surgeries to treat diabetic eye diseases and prevent vision loss. Two of the most important actions you can take to help prevent diabetic eye disease are to try and maintain healthy blood sugar levels and schedule regular eye exams.

Since diabetic eye diseases often occur because of high blood sugars, managing your blood sugar levels and keeping them within the normal range can lessen your chances of developing eye problems.

Often, diabetic eye diseases can develop without warning signs. By the time you begin to experience symptoms, it’s possible that the disease has already caused irreversible damage. For diabetics, it’s especially important to have regular, dilated eye exams, which can help diagnose and treat eye problems early.

If you’re diabetic, it’s never too late to start practicing preventative health measures to protect your eyes. An easy first step is to schedule an appointment with an Eye Center South eye doctor. Call us today at (800) 467-1393 to get started.