Diabetes is a serious disease that should never be ignored. Its tendency to affect the eyes makes it imperative that you visit an eye doctor once diagnosed. The most common eye disease related to diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy which is more commonly known as “Diabetic Eye Disease.” This term covers a lot of other eye conditions related to diabetes such as cataracts, Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) and Glaucoma. These conditions, if not attended to by an eye doctor, can lead to complete blindness or severe loss of vision.
A great deal of awareness has been raised about how acute diabetes is. And this is why patients with diabetes are encouraged to be proactive about it and seek continuous medical help, especially the health of their eyes. For anyone living with diabetes, it’s imperative to visit your eye doctor frequently.
Effects of Diabetes on the eyes
Diabetes is a disease that makes the sugar levels in the body rise. An increase in blood sugar level leads to swelling of the lenses which makes vision blurry. This, as mentioned earlier, is the mildest effect of diabetes on the eyes. The problem of blurry vision is not permanent if promptly attended to. It only requires regulation of blood sugar levels. If the blurry vision persists however, you should see an eye doctor to find out how to treat it and see if it can lead to more severe problems in the future. You should not leave your ocular health to chance or fate once you’re diagnosed with diabetes.
The following are the specific ailments that diabetes can cause for your vision:
1. Diabetic Retinopathy
This occurs when blood vessels in the retina are affected by the high sugar levels in the blood. Typically, it starts by making the affected blood vessels swell up and in extreme cases, leak. In other instances, the blood vessels grow out of control and make the surface of the retina hidden. Since the retina is the part of the eye where light enters the eyes to produce images, the swollen blood vessels block light from entering the eyes therefore making vision blurry or impossible. This leads to blindness if not taken care of. For patients who have had diabetes for a long time, they stand a higher risk of developing Diabetic Retinopathy. The only way out of this is to consult with an eye doctor on how to regulate blood sugar, thereby protecting their retina.
2. Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
This occurs as a result of Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) has two types: Focal DME and the Diffuse DME. Abnormal blood vessels in the eye cause Focal DME while swelling capillaries cause Diffuse DME. The result of these issues is that fluid gets accumulated in the macula, a part of the retina which is responsible for making images clear and accurate. Patients who have developed DME, if not treated immediately can cause any of the following: excessive floaters, double vision, blurry vision, and blindness in extreme cases. The most effective treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema is using eye injections or laser procedures.
Cataracts are when the lens of the eye gets cloudy, greatly diminishing visual acuity. Cataracts cloud your vision, making the eye blurry and causes glare. It is different from Diabetic Retinopathy and DME where one leads to the other. Cataracts can affect anyone, even those who do not have diabetes, however they’re more common in patients living with diabetes. Treatment of Cataracts includes taking out the damaged lens and replacing with a natural lens.
Glaucoma is the condition in which the eye is unable to drain or get rid of excess fluid. When there is a fluid buildup in the eye, there is more pressure on the optic nerve causing eye pain, headache, and blurred vision. If nothing is done about it, it damages the optic nerve in the end leading to a permanent loss of vision. Glaucoma can be treated by using medications to speed up the fluid drainage and reduce the pressure in the eye. Glaucoma is not exclusive to diabetic patients; but its occurrence often coincides with diabetes as one of the effects of Diabetic Retinopathy.
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