Diabetes puts you at a higher risk of going blind. If you have abnormal glucose levels, they can cause or exacerbate certain diseases. Many of these diseases related to eye health and vision. But diabetics shouldn’t worry about losing their vision due to diabetes. With proper preventative care and treatment, diabetic eye diseases can be managed.
What Are Diabetic Eye Diseases?
Diabetes has a direct link to several eye diseases. These eye diseases can occur because of diabetes or are often diagnosed in diabetics.
Diabetic Retinopathy occurs as a result of diabetes. Retinopathy affects the retina, the camera film along the back of the eye, and the blood vessels in the retina. High glucose levels lead to an excess amount of fluid in the retina. When there is too much fluid, it can cause the vessels to swell or leak. This leads to retinal damage and potential vision loss in patients.
Diabetic Macular Edema also occurs as a result of diabetes. Diabetic macular edema occurs when the central vision area of the retina becomes swollen. Swelling in the retina, or camera film of the eye can cause a distorted or blurry picture.
Diabetes can also accelerate cataract formation, causing them to form earlier in life. Cataracts form because the normal protein structure of the eye’s lens breaks down, causing the lens to become cloudy. When the lens becomes cloudy, vision can be reduced, such as when a car windshield becomes foggy.
Glaucoma is a condition that affects many patients but diabetics are more prone. Glaucoma is a disease where increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, leading to permanent vision loss.
Who is Most at Risk for Diabetic Eye Diseases?
If you are diabetic, you are already at risk of developing diabetic eye diseases. This is the case for type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Even if you have diabetes, it is not a guarantee that you will develop diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye diseases are likely to develop if you don’t control your blood sugar levels.
An increase in the amount of glucose plays a role in being a higher risk for these diseases. Diabetic patients with controlled blood sugar levels are less likely to develop them.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop retinopathy. This is because the body has a decreased ability to manage blood sugar during pregnancy.
How Do You Know if You Have a Diabetic Eye Disease?
One of the difficult things about diabetic eye diseases is the lack of early symptoms. With most diabetic eye diseases, you won’t notice any vision changes until significant changes have occurred. This means that the disease has already progressed and is severe. Since there are no symptoms to watch for early on, regular eye exams are vital for diabetic patients!
Early detection and diagnosis can only happen as a result of a comprehensive eye exam. In a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor examines your eyes, including the retina, and optic nerve.
They can also measure the fluid pressure in each eye. This allows them to have a full view of any damage if you have any diabetic eye diseases.
Once the exam is complete, your doctor will be able to tell if you have any diabetic-related diseases. If you do, they can recommend measures to prevent or treat further damage. Without a comprehensive eye exam, you would never know if you have a diabetic eye disease
Preventing and Treating Diabetic Eye Diseases
The best way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Even the healthiest diabetics can still develop diabetic eye disease. It can be difficult to manage your glucose levels. Even a small change can increase a diabetic’s chances of developing an eye disease.
Once a diabetic eye disease is diagnosed, the patient can begin treatment. When caught early, treating diabetic eye diseases like glaucoma can prevent more damage.
There are several options for treatment. Some can even be used together as part of a treatment plan.
Focal Macular Laser Surgery is a procedure used to treat macular edema. This procedure uses lasers to painlessly and safely plug leaking blood vessels to stop fluid leakage causing edema.
Anti-VEGF Medication is directly injected into the eye. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein. This protein stimulates abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage. These are usually associated with diabetic retinopathy and macular edema.
A Vitrectomy is a surgery that removes vitreous gel in the eye. The procedure treats excessive bleeding in the vitreous caused by diabetic retinopathy.