Diabetes is a disease that affects the metabolic process that results in increased blood sugar levels either because of inadequate insulin production or because the body does not properly use the insulin it produces.
The risk of vision loss is increased when diabetes is not controlled. Diabetic eye disease can come in a number of forms.
Diabetic retinopathy refers to one of the primary causes of vision loss in adults. This condition occurs when increased glucose levels cause the retinal blood vessels in the retina to suffer blockages. The blockages lead to leaks in the blood vessels causing permanent retinal damage.
The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is an essential component for proper vision. Damage to the retina can result in permanent vision loss. While controlling diabetes reduces the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and therefore it is essential to have your eyes checked yearly if you have diabetes.
Daily changes in blood sugar levels, which are common in situations where diabetes is untreated, can cause aberrations in the crystalline lens of the eye. Because glucose levels are associated with the ability of your lens to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurry vision that fluctuates with glucose levels.
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and can also develop in diabetics. Even though cataracts are common in people over a certain age, the likelihood of having cataracts earlier is higher in those with diabetes.
Glaucoma risk in individuals with diabetes is twice that of the normal population. Glaucoma is an increase in interoptic fluid pressure which causes damage to the optic nerve and ultimately vision loss.
The optimal prevention for diabetic eye disease is for diabetics to control their glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to eat properly, exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is imperative to have yearly eye exams with an optometrist to find any possible problems at the earliest stages. Even though in many cases any loss of sight that results from diabetic eye disease of any kind is permanent, early diagnosis and treatment can often slow further vision loss.