Diabetes is a disease that disrupts the metabolic process that results in elevated levels of glucose in the blood either because of inadequate production of insulin or because the body does not efficiently utilize the insulin it produces.
The risk of eye damage is increased when diabetes is not controlled. Diabetic eye disease can come in a few different ways.
One of the primary ways that diabetes can affect your eye is by damaging the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is one of the most frequent causes of vision loss in adults.
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is essential for proper vision. Retinal damage can cause permanent blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and therefore it is crucial to have your eyes checked at least once a year if you have diabetes.
Periodic fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which are common when diabetes is not controlled, can affect the eye's crystalline lens. Due to the fact that glucose levels are linked to your lens's ability to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurry vision that fluctuates with glucose levels.
Diabetics have a greater chance to develop cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which impacts vision. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops earlier in life in those with diabetes.
A diabetic is twice as likely to develop glaucoma, an elevation in interoptic fluid pressure which causes optic nerve damage and eventually blindness.
The best prevention for diabetic eye disease is for diabetics to control their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to eat properly, exercise and refrain from smoking. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is imperative to have regular annual retinal exams with an optometrist to detect any possible damage early on. While it is often the case that any loss of sight caused by diabetic eye disease of any kind is irreparable, early diagnosis and treatment can often prevent further damage.