Weakened blood vessels is a common side effect of diabetes. When the small blood vessels in your eye become damaged, the result is typically a degenerative eye disease and vision loss.
Changes to your vision and other more-severe eye conditions frequently occur because of diabetes, so we recommend receiving a thorough retinal exam every year to discover new issues with your vision that may arise from diabetes.
Affecting Your Vision
Though not all patients with diabetes will experience adverse eye conditions, there are a few to watch out for, including:
- Diabetic Retinopathy
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause Diabetic Retinopathy. This disease results in damage to your retinal blood vessels, causing fat, fluid, and blood to leak out of them. As fluid accumulates in the retina, you will begin to experience blurred vision.
In more advanced cases of Diabetic Retinopathy, healthy blood vessels in the retina become blocked by excess sugar and abnormal vessels grow in their place. This can lead to vision loss and permanent detachment of the retina.
Most people will develop cataracts — clouding of the lenses in your eyes — at some point as they age. However, patients with diabetes will develop deterioration of the lens much more quickly and more severely. Cataracts adversely affect the clarity of your vision, and if left untreated, can cause legal or total blindness.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve through increased eye pressure. In advanced cases, patients can experience permanent vision loss.
Diabetes doesn’t directly cause glaucoma, but there is a strong connection between the two. Evidence suggests a correlation between high blood sugar levels and increased pressure in the eyes. In fact, people with diabetes are statistically two times more likely to develop glaucoma than those with normal blood sugar levels.
Prevention and Protection
There are many preventative steps you can take to lower your risk of eye complications caused by diabetes. These include:
- Annual Vision Exams
To help prevent diabetic-caused vision complications, schedule an annual, comprehensive eye exam. The exam allows your eye doctor to examine the health of your retina and optic nerves. By detecting vision diseases early, you can be treated sooner, meaning you are less likely to develop severe symptoms.
- Watch for Vision Changes
During your annual exam, you and your doctor will discuss common symptoms for which you should be on the lookout. Remain vigilant about early detection and maintain good communication with your eye doctor. Let him or her know as soon as you notice changes or problems with your vision.
- Maintain Your Blood Sugar
The main culprit for adverse vision symptoms is high blood sugar. Prevent damage to your eyes by keeping your blood sugar under control. Monitor it routinely, eat a healthy diet, and take your diabetes medication as prescribed by your doctor.
- Manage High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
High blood pressure increases lipid and blood leakage, increasing damage to the blood vessels in your eyes.
High cholesterol means a larger amount of fatty deposits leak from those blood vessels, as well.
Counteract these symptoms by taking prescribed medication and consuming a heart-healthy diet that’s rich in whole grains and vegetables and low in fat and salt.
- Exercise Regularly
Routine exercise helps your body use insulin, burn body fat, strengthen your muscles, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve blood circulation. Engaging in regular, physical activity will improve the health of your eyes and lower the risk of diabetes-caused eye diseases.
Keep in mind, if you are already suffering from proliferative retinopathy, avoid vigorous physical activity and weight lifting. These activities can raise your blood pressure and cause unwanted hemorrhaging.
Whether or not you’re diabetic, receiving a routine, annual eye exam is the best thing you can do to protect your vision health. Call Complete Eye Care to schedule your exam today.