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Diabetes and Your Eyes

Do you know why your eye exam can be a factor in diagnosing diabetes? The raised blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause damage to your eyes in a couple of ways.

There are a number of ways that diabetes, particularly when it is uncontrolled, can cause damage to your eyes.

The most common diabetic eye disease, called diabetic retinopathy, is a leading cause of blindness in adults. This condition results when excessive glucose levels cause blockages in the blood vessels around the retina. Consequently, these small blood vessels often leak resulting in permanent retinal damage.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is a critical component for proper vision. Retinal damage can result in irreversible vision loss. While controlling diabetes reduces the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and this is why it is crucial to have your eyes checked every year if you have diabetes.

Blood sugar levels that fluctuate periodically can also affect vision. Due to the fact that blood sugar levels are linked to your lens's ability to focus, this can result in blurry vision that fluctuates with blood sugar levels.

Diabetics have a greater chance to develop cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which causes vision problems. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but happens earlier in life in diabetics.

A diabetic is two times more at risk of developing glaucoma, an elevation in interoptic fluid pressure leading to optic nerve damage and eventually vision loss.

Having your diabetes under control is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. As well as controlling blood sugar levels by means of proper nutrition and/or insulin, it's important to exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is critical to have yearly eye exams with an optometrist to identify any problems as early as possible. Even though it is common that any loss of sight that results from diabetic eye disease of any kind cannot be restored, early detection and treatment can often prevent additional damage.

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