Diabetes

Eyes and Vision

How can Diabetes hurt my eyes?

Diabetes increases your risk for many serious problems. Diabetes-related eye problems are common and lead to the deterioration of vision and, ultimately, blindness if left untreated. 

Diabetic retinopathy is the medical term for the most common Diabetes related eye problem. It is the leading cause of vision loss in adults (age 20-65 years). Having high blood sugar and high blood pressure for a long time can damage the small blood vessels of the retina in the back of your eye.

Retina damage happens slowly. First, the small blood vessels swell and become weak and leaky. Some blood vessels then become blocked. At this stage, retinopathy does not usually cause vision loss and you might not have symptoms. However, fluid may leak causing blurred vision and loss of sight which should be treated immediately.

As retina problems worsen, the blood vessels become so damaged and clogged, that in response, new blood vessels start growing. These blood vessels are very weak and can break easily and leak into the vitreous, the clear gel that fills the back of your eye, blocking vision.

Over time, the new blood vessels can form scar tissue and pull the retina away from the back of the eye. If this is not taken care of promptly, it can cause blindness.

What can I do about Diabetes retina problems?

Other eye problems that may affect people with Diabetes

Cataract and glaucoma are two other eye problems that can affect people with Diabetes. These conditions can affect people without Diabetes; however, people with Diabetes get these problems more often and at a younger age.
With cataracts, everything you look at seems cloudy as the lens of the eye, which is ordinarily clear, becomes cloudy, blocking light. You may need surgery to replace the lens in order to help you see clearly again.
Glaucoma results from pressure building up inside the eye. Over time, this pressure damages the retina and the eye’s main nerve leading to gradual vision loss. Drugs can be used to reduce the pressure in the eye and in some cases surgery may be needed.

Remember to consider the following: