Living with diabetes is likely to increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, but diabetes and vision health are so closely linked that it is usually discovered early in a routine eye exam. People living with diabetes are at a higher risk of blindness and other vision problems than people without it. Here are the possible conditions that can be more likely with having diabetes.
Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition where the small blood vessels in your eyes begin to leak blood or yellow fluid in the eye. Some early symptoms include floaters, blurred or distorted vision. Some blurred vision can be improved with blood sugar control, but often medicine and other procedures may be needed to restore vision. Diabetic Retinopathy is a common cause of blindness in diabetics. Getting regular eye exams and maintaining blood sugar levels are the best preventative ways to slow and prevent vision problems.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) is a disease caused by the progression of diabetic retinopathy. According to the American Diabetes Association, fluid can leak into the part of the eye where focusing occurs, the macula. When the macula swells with fluid, vision blurs and can be lost entirely. DME is the most common cause of vision loss with diabetic retinopathy and can occur at any stage. There are multiple treatments including, anti-VEGF injections that block vessel formation and prevent leakage in the retina.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition for people without diabetes, but diabetes can increase the likelihood of glaucoma by 40%. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye disorders that have few initial symptoms but cause harm to the optic nerve. Loss of vision occurs with glaucoma because of the higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye. It will first cause loss of peripheral vision, and may eventually lead to blindness. You can read more about Glaucoma in our previous blog posts.
Cataracts can develop due to many other factors, but according to the American Diabetes Association people with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop this condition. They can develop at a younger age and at a more rapid pace with diabetics. Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye clouds up from natural proteins that build up over time. Learn more about cataracts and treatment options in our blog, How Cataracts Affect Vision.
The longer you’ve had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing these conditions. Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually have a form of retinopathy. Your eye health can be compromised before you notice any change in vision. Make sure you schedule regular eye exams to detect issues early and to keep your eyes healthy!