Diabetes requires regular eye checkups since this disease increases the risk of eye problems. Diabetes is the major cause of blindness in people aged between 20 and 74.
Diabetes and Eye Problems
Diabetes eye problems occur due to high glucose levels in the blood. Eye problems like blurred vision develop quickly due to high blood sugar. Elevated sugar levels in the blood affect the eye’s lens, causing it to swell and resulting in vision changes.
Blurred vision can be improved by getting the blood sugar level within desirable range of 90-130 mg/dL before a meal and below 180mg/dL after a meal. Consistent control of blood sugar level will restore normal vision within three months.
Blurred vision may sometimes indicate a serious eye problem caused by diabetes. The most common eye problems in people suffering from diabetes are cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic CataractDamage to the lens in the eye in diabetics can lead to a cataract, a condition characterized by clouding or fogging of the eye’s lens. The lens is the structure which enables us to see and focus on an image. A cataract can affect anyone but people with diabetes are particularly susceptible to that condition. Also, a cataract in diabetics usually develops at an earlier age and tends to get worse more quickly. The condition causes blurred or glared vision and may also lead to loss of vision and blindness. Cataracts are treated surgically.
Diabetes and GlaucomaDiabetes can also lead to another eye problem, a condition called glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs due to increased pressure in the eye as a result of improper draining of the fluid inside the eye. This elevated pressure causes damage to the optic nerve and the blood vessels in the eye leading to vision changes. This eye problem is initially asymptomatic but when progresses it leads to considerable loss of vision. Some of the glaucoma symptoms include headaches, eye aches, blurred vision, watering eyes, halos around lights and vision loss. Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops and surgery.
Diabetic RetinopathyThe retina is the tissue at the back of the eye which converts light that enters through the lens. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease caused by damage to blood vessels in the eye’s retina. Damage to tiny blood vessels caused by diabetes is known as a “microvascular complication”. It also includes diabetes-related kidney disease and nerve damage. On the other hand, damage of large vessels is called “macrovascular complication” and includes heart disease and stroke. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. This eye problem is classified into background retinopathy, maculopathy and proliferative retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is treated with laser procedures or surgery.