Diabetes and the Eyes

One of the unfortunate complications of diabetes is the damage that it can do to your eyes. High blood sugar levels are the culprit. Keeping your diabetes under control goes a long way toward staving off eye diseases and vision loss, but most diabetics will experience some problems after 15 years of living with the disease. Some of the eye diseases caused by diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, do not produce symptoms before causing significant damage. Regular eye exams can catch these conditions in time to treat them before vision loss sets in.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Nearly half of all diabetics develop diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar damages blood vessels. In diabetic retinopathy the capillaries in the eyes are damaged. They can swell up, leak fluid, or close off. Leaking vessels can cause swelling in the center of the retina (macula) distorting vision and causing vision loss.

When the vessels are closed off, your eyes are robbed of oxygen and nutrients so your body tries to compensate for the problem by creating new ones. That may sound like a good idea, but the new vessels cause scar tissue to form. The scar tissue distorts the retina and can cause retinal detachment.

Glaucoma
Glaucoma usually involves elevated intraocular pressure. High blood sugar can damage cells in the part of the eye that allows fluid to flow out. When these cells are damaged pressure builds up inside of the eye causing damage to the optic nerve.

Cataracts
Major fluctuations in blood sugar can cause the lens of the eye to swell. When this happens enough it can damage the lens causing cataracts.

If you have diabetes please schedule an eye exam with an ophthalmologist in your area today.