Most people won’t lose their vision due to diabetes especially if they control it well. That said, diabetes can impact your vision very seriously.

Just imagine lots of little sugar crystals speeding through the very small capillaries that supply your eyes with blood. With each heart beat those crystals can scar the insides of your blood vessels and damage the fine nerve endings in your eyes. That’s why diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. Specifically, diabetic retinopathy happens when diabetes damages retinal blood vessels, causing them to bleed or leak fluid, which in turn results in distortion to or even the complete loss of vision.

Diabetes can also cause diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract and glaucoma. DME happens when diabetic retinopathy causes swelling in the area of the retina called the macula. Cataract, or clouding of the eye’s lens, happens earlier in people with diabetes. Diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma, a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve.

Early detection, timely treatment and fast, appropriate follow up care provide the best protection against possible vision loss. People with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The same recommendations for controlling diabetes, like exercise, a balanced diet and taking appropriate medications, can also delay or prevent vision loss.

Always remember that you can do a lot to mitigate diabetes’ effects. Consult your medical professionals for personalized advice on your diet, exercise program and medications that can help you keep your diabetes under control.

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