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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes

Did you know that vision is one of the main factors at risk for someone with diabetes? According to the National Eye Institute, diabetes-related eye problems are the leading cause of blindness in American adults because most diabetes-related issues are at the root of some major eye conditions.

Don’t automatically assume that you need a new eyeglass prescription if your eyesight becomes hazy. Blurry vision could be an indicator that you have diabetes if you have yet to be diagnosed. Always talk to your doctor if you experience any sudden changes in your vision.

Testing Blood Sugar

How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

  • High/Low Blood Sugar: Having blood sugar levels outside of their normal range will cause swelling of the eye lens, which can lead to temporary blurred vision. Getting the glucose levels back into the targeted range will correct the blurred vision but too much glucose in the bloodstream damages blood vessels and nerves that leads to more serious and permanent eye conditions.
  • High Blood Pressure: Those with diabetes are twice as likely to experience high blood pressure. This is when the arteries have an increased resistance against the flow of blood so the heart has to pump harder than usual to circulate the blood. Because diabetes damages your small blood vessels, the walls of the blood vessels stiffen causing increased pressure. Continued elevation of blood pressure levels can eventually lead to heart disease, stroke and serious vision diseases.

Diabetic Eye Diseases

Cataracts occur when a normally clear eye lens becomes cloudy over time. Although anyone can get cataracts, people with diabetes develop them earlier in life and have them worsen faster because of high blood sugar. Too much sugar in your blood can build up on the lens and lead to cataracts.
Glaucoma is caused by high pressure to the eye and can result in the loss of nerve tissue and vision loss. Neovascular glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that is caused by diabetes. The blood vessels in your retina can be damaged from high sugar levels and eventually form new ones. If these new blood vessels grow on the iris, you will have increased eye pressure leading to glaucoma.
Macular Edema
The macula is the light-sensitive center of the retina that sends clear images to the brain. High blood pressure from diabetes will cause your blood vessels to bulge. Once the blood vessels expand, they leak into the macula which makes it swell and results in fuzzy vision.
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels that lead to the retina are cut off and blocked by too much sugar in the blood. The eye will then attempt to form new abnormal blood vessels on the retina’s surface. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.

Take control of your diabetes and pay attention to any changes in your vision so you can stop vision problems in their tracks. As always, contact your eye doctor if any issues or questions arise.

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