Diabetes is a health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. 37 million Americans have diabetes and another 96 million have pre-diabetes, and in the last two decades the number of adults newly diagnosed with diabetes has doubled. This disease affects many systems in our bodies, and one of the most well-known effects is what it can do to your vision. The longer you have diabetes, the more serious the effects. What are the signs that diabetes is affecting your eyes?
How Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision
Changing vision is the most important sign that diabetes is affecting your eyes. With diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or it can’t use it properly. When this happens, too much blood sugar remains in your bloodstream and it can lead to heart disease, vision loss, or kidney disease.
Diabetes affects the blood vessels in the retina of our eyes. The retina is the light sensitive area in the back of the eyes. The longer you have diabetes the blood vessels in your eyes become more compromised.
Four Diabetic Eye Diseases
There are no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the disease progresses, the blood vessels in the back of your eyes begin to bleed into the vitreous, or the white jelly like part of our eyes. When this occurs you will begin to see floating spots or cobwebs. As soon as you notice these signs, it is crucial to make an appointment with Dr. Hecht as soon as possible before the disease progresses any further.
Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy, and in fact, 50% do. Early treatment can stop the progression and the damage to prevent vision loss. You will have labs taken that look at your A1C level. This is an important test to gauge your average blood sugar level for a three-month period.
When combining high blood pressure and high cholesterol with diabetes, you increase your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Controlling those two issues will help lower your risk factors.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
If you already have diabetic retinopathy, you are at risk for DME. The macula is the part of your retina that you need for driving, reading, and seeing faces close up. DME causes the macula to swell, and if this is not diagnosed and controlled, it can destroy your sharp vision leading to partial vision loss or blindness.
Glaucoma causes loss of peripheral vision. It damages the optic nerve, or the nerves that connect to our brain. You double your risks of developing glaucoma if you have diabetes. Most patients are unaware they have glaucoma in the beginning stages of the disease. That’s why dilated comprehensive eye exams are so crucial to protect your vision. There is no cure, but it can be controlled. Contact Dr. Hecht for an evaluation if you are noticing loss of peripheral vision.
If you don’t get proper treatment, it can lead to blindness.
Cataracts are cloudy lenses in our eyes. They develop as we age, although people with diabetes can develop a cataract at a younger age.
The good news is that you can manage diabetes through medication, keeping blood sugar at a healthy level, eating healthy, and doing regular exercise. Seeing an ophthalmologist like Dr. Hecht in Lawndale and Beverly Hills at least once a year for a dilated eye exam is one of the most important ways to manage your diabetes.
Stealing from a state motto, Don’t Mess with Diabetes! Keep up to date with all your eye appointments.