Diabetes doesn’t just affect your blood sugar levels. It can also cause damage to various parts of your body, including, nerves, kidneys and eyes. Those with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than people without. Fortunately, most people who have diabetes only have minor eye disorders, but regular eye exams are key in order to protect your eyesight and prevent any issues that do arise from becoming more severe. In the case of severe issues, seeing your eye doctor regularly can help preserve your vision.
Many people without diabetes get cataracts, but people with diabetes are 60% more likely to develop them, and at a younger age. Cataracts cloud the lens in the eye, blocking off light and making it hard to see. Some people wear sunglasses more often to reduce glare, but others may have to have surgery to get an artificial lens implanted. Those with diabetes may be more prone to complications, including glaucoma.
People with diabetes are 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes. Glaucoma is the result of a build-up of pressure in the eye, which can lead to problems with the aqueous humor of the eye not draining properly. This can pinch the blood vessels that transport blood to the retina and optic nerve, starving them of oxygen to the point where they become so damaged, the person will go blind.
Treatments for glaucoma include medication and surgery.
Diabetic retinopathy refers to all problems with the retina as a result of diabetes. Several factors can determine whether or not you develop retinopathy, including:
- Tight blood glucose control
- Keeping blood pressure at a healthy range
- How long you have had diabetes.
The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop retinopathy. In some cases, it can lead to blindness. It is important to get checked regularly, because retinopathy often has no symptoms, until it is too late to treat the condition. Always get your eyes checked regularly according to your doctor’s recommendations.