Why This Condition Is Concerning for Your Vision Health
In light of American Diabetes Month, it’s important to understand how diabetes can impact your vision health and what you can do to protect your eyesight. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between the two and how that equates to a greater risk of blindness.
What Is Diabetes and What Causes the Condition?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when high levels of sugar are in the blood. Over time, diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the body—including those in the eyes. This can cause some vision problems, including diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in adults.
How Can Diabetes Affect My Eyesight?
Diabetes can cause many eye problems, including:
Diabetic Retinopathy: This is when diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye responsible for vision.
Cataracts: These are cloudy areas in the eye lens that can make vision blurry. People with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts.
Glaucoma: This is a condition that damages the nerve that connects the eye to the brain. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy may not cause any symptoms. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Dark or empty areas in your field of vision
What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?
Cataracts often develop slowly and don’t usually interfere with your vision until they become dense. Symptoms may include:
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Diminished colors
- Headlights seem too bright when driving at night
- Double vision in one eye
- Poor night vision
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma often develops slowly and without pain. Symptoms may include:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision (side vision)
- Blindness in one eye
What Can I Do to Protect My Eyesight?
If you have diabetes, you must see an eye doctor regularly. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way to detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages when it is most treatable. You should also:
- Control your blood sugar levels. The higher your blood sugar, the greater the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
- Quit smoking. Smoking doubles the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
- Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. High cholesterol and blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eyes.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of developing diabetes, leading to diabetic retinopathy.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help you control your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can help you control your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight.
Wrap Up: How Diabetes Affects Vision Health
Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to many vision problems, including diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. If you have diabetes, it’s important to see an eye doctor regularly and to control your blood sugar levels.
You should also quit smoking, manage your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, maintain a healthy weight, and eat a healthy diet. Exercise can also help you control your blood sugar levels and sustain a healthy weight. By following these tips, you can help protect your eyesight.
At California Oculoplastics and Retina, we offer various services to help you maintain healthy vision, including comprehensive dilated eye exams, cataract surgery, and glaucoma treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.