If you are wondering if there is a direct connection between eyes, vision, and diabetes, yes. It does. Diabetic people are advised to have regular eye check-ups. As we all know, diabetes causes high blood sugar, which can cause cataracts, retinopathy, blurry vision, and glaucoma.
Does Diabetes Affect Eye Vision?
Studies have found that the most common reason for blindness in the age group 20 to 74 years, is diabetes.
When diabetic people notice their vision going a little blurry, it is highly likely it’s diabetes acting up. High levels of sugar in the blood can cause this problem. When the sugar level rises, the lens in the eyes swells, which hinders the ability of the eyes to see. To make it back to normal, the sugar level needs to get back in the target range, which is 70-130 milligrams before eating and blow 180 milligrams after eating. Getting the vision completely back to normal may take three months. If the problem persists or becomes more serious, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Another reason the eyes feel blurry can be fluid getting disposed of into the lens of the eyes. One can also experience blurred vision while they start the insulin treatment. This happens because fluids shift. This generally goes away in a few weeks. For many people, their vision gets back to normal when their sugar level is maintained. Other symptoms may include faded colors, double-vision, light sensitivity, the vision that does not improve with prescription or glasses.
Our eyes work just like cameras. They have the ability to focus on an image or an object. When one feels cloudy on those lenses, a cataract has formed. Even though anyone can get them, people with diabetes are at a greater risk. When a part of an eye feels like seeing through a smudged window, the eye can not focus as it did. Symptoms include glare. When this happens, waiting around for it to go away would not do. The cataract will have to be removed with surgery. The doctors will replace the cloudy lens with a fresh artificial lens.
Glaucoma is a disease that pressurizes the eyes and damages the optic nerve. The National Eye Institute says that diabetic people have a twice greater risk of glaucoma than other adults. The pressure inside the eyes starts building up and the fluids can no longer drain as they should. This further causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels. The most common type, open-angle glaucoma, can mostly be treated with medications. They help in clearing up the pressure formed on the eyes and let the drainage flow, and this further reduces the liquid in the eyes. If caught early, this type is not likely to cause severe symptoms. When it moves further away in severity, people may experience eye aches, headaches, watery eyes, seeing halos, and loss of vision. For treating this, doctors usually prescribe medicines and yes drops. If serious, surgery, as well as laser treatment, helps in decreasing the pressure on the eyes.
A person with diabetes is also likely to get neovascular glaucoma, a rare condition. In this condition, new blood vessels start growing on the eyes’ colored part, iris. For treating this, the growth of new blood vessels is reversed. Lasers or anti-VEGF may be used to treat this.
A group of cells called the retina which takes in the outer light. Their role is to turn this light and turn it into images, which further sends them to the brain. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where these small blood vessels are damaged. If not treated at an early stage, a person can go blind. If the sugar in the blood keeps on rising, the risk of getting it increases, if the levels are maintained, the lower the risk.
Diabetic patients suffering from type 1 are not much likely to develop this disease before adolescence. If adults have had type 1 diabetes for over 5 years, the risk increases. There are also other types of this disease, including background retinopathy, maculopathy, and proliferative retinopathy.
What gives a person sharp central vision is the macula, which is the center of the retina. This condition is when the macula gets swollen because of the leaking fluid. Other symptoms include wavy visions and changes in colors. In most cases, it affects both eyes. It stems from diabetic retinopathy. According to an estimate made by the National Eye Institute, around 7.7 million Americans suffer from the disease of retinopathy.
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Amanda Wingfield is a certified Diabetes Management Specialist who also holds an MD in Endocrinology, with certifications from ABIM and AACE. She has a decade of experience serving thousands of patients through her independent practice and has been working in the capacity of an expert diabetes consultant for the past 4 years. Ms. Wingfield is revered by her regular readers for her in-depth research and evidence-based analysis of diabetes medications, supplements, and treatments, and her highly critical style of writing.