Diabetes affects the whole body, and your eyes are no exception. But, does having diabetes mean you will lose your vision? Here are some tips for avoiding diabetes-related eye problems.
Most people won't lose their vision due to diabetes, especially if they maintain very tight control. 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 heartbeat, 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 high blood sugar damages retinal blood vessels, causing them to bleed or leak fluid, which in turn results in distortion 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 managing 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 the effects of diabetes. Check your blood sugar often and learn what your numbers mean and how you can use them to adjust and improve your average blood sugar and A1c. Along with frequent blood glucose testing, consult your medical professionals for personalized advice on your diet, exercise program and medications that can help you keep your diabetes under control.
Are you already experiencing eye complications? It's never too late to start changing your future. Act now to reduce further damage.