Diabetes is associated with several eye health issues including cataracts and glaucoma, but the most well known diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that only affects diabetics. It occurs when the fragile vascular network that supplies the retina – the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye that helps us see – begins to swell or leak. During the beginning stages of the disease, there may be no noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to have your eyes checked at least once a year if you have diabetes.
Once symptoms of diabetic retinopathy do develop, they can include: dark or black spots in your visual field, or blurry vision, and it increases over time. This is a result of bleeding at the back of the eye, which prevents a clear image from being transmitted from the retina to the brain.
Whether you have type 1, type 2, or even just gestational diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have had the disease, the greater the risk. It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels under control to prevent vision loss, and this may require a trip back to your primary care physician.
Treating diabetic retinopathy can include vitrectomy, replacing the inner gel-like substance that supports the eyeball structure, and laser surgery.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website.
Top Ways to Keep Your Vision Sharp With Diabetes
When signs of diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts are detected at a very early stage, the progression of these diseases can be slowed or halted. As symptoms are usually not experienced until the diseases have advanced, a comprehensive eye exam is the only reliable way to detect the onset of diabetic eye complications, and an early diagnosis = early treatment. If you have diabetes and want to keep your eyesight as clear and healthy as possible, call now to schedule a thorough eye exam at our County office.
Even if it’s not yet time for your regular dilated eye exam, some symptoms point to a need to have our qualified optometrist check your eyes as soon as possible. Please contact us for an appointment if you experience any of the following:
Signs of macular edema:
- Straight lines seem to bend
- Difficulty seeing facial expressions
- Blurry central vision, such as when trying to read a clock
- Trouble with seeing at night
Signs of proliferative retinopathy (associated with bleeding into the middle of the eye):
- Loss of vision starting from one side, like a curtain closing from the side towards the center
- Sudden appearance of black floaters across your vision
By keeping your HBA1c (average blood glucose levels) in the target range recommended by your primary physician, you are protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of uncontrolled diabetes. Many research studies have confirmed the incredible health benefits of excellent and stable glucose control. Check your blood sugar regularly, follow your advised meal plan, and contact your doctor for assistance if your glucose readings change. This may indicate that your diabetes medication or regimen needs to be modified.
Aerobic exercise has demonstrated great positive impacts on diabetes management and on the body’s vascular function, which keeps blood circulation flowing efficiently through your whole body – including your visual system. With exercise, you can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, which also helps to remove extra strain from your eyes. To this end, a healthy diet, rich with vitamins and minerals, is similarly advised. Ask our eye doctors about whether you should take a multivitamin vision supplement.
Smoking also raises your risk for retinopathy and other diabetes-related ocular diseases, so kicking your nicotine habit is a great way to lower your chances of vision loss. Another healthy habit is to always wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from harmful UV light exposure.
Nowadays, advanced optometric technology allows our eye doctors to spot signs of diabetes in your eyes as soon as they appear. In addition, if you’ve already been diagnosed with a diabetic eye complication, we offer many cutting-edge treatments to help preserve your sight.