Diabetes Symptoms Affecting Vision
Some of the typical symptoms of diabetes involve changes to your vision. These changes can include blurred vision and difficulty focusing. Although these are often caused by shifts in your blood glucose levels, sometimes changes in eyesight can also be symptoms of developing eye disorders.
Common Vision Complications from Diabetes
Diabetics can be affected by a number of eye conditions. The most common include:
- Diabetic Retinopathy
Each of these conditions impact your vision in different ways. Although progression is possible, you may be able to slow some of the correlated changes in vision with continued, diligent care.
Glaucoma is characterized by an increase in the fluid pressure inside of the eye. This pressure pinches blood vessels carrying blood to the optic nerve and retina, resulting in eventual vision loss due to damage. Vision loss with glaucoma is gradual.
Individuals diagnosed with diabetes are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma than individuals without this disease. If you have had diabetes for an extended length of time, your likelihood for developing glaucoma also increases. Aging is another contributing factor towards development.
Cataracts are characterized by a clouding on the surface on the lens of the eye. As clouding continues to develop with time, it may also lead to vision loss. The likelihood of developing cataracts increases by 60% when you have diabetes. Although it is possible for people without diabetes to develop this condition, individuals with diabetes will develop cataracts at a younger age and will experience a faster progression.
Diabetic retinopathy is a term used to describe numerous retinal disorders resulting from diabetes and is categorized into two major types: non-proliferative and proliferative. Non-proliferative retinopathy is the most common and occurs when the capillaries behind the eye begin to swell and form pouches. The condition becomes more severe as additional capillaries are blocked by swelling.
Some individuals develop proliferative retinopathy after several years of progression. This form of retinopathy is considered to be more serious because the capillaries become damaged to the extent that they completely close. Although new capillaries begin to form, they are considerably weak and susceptible to leaking, known as a vitreous hemorrhage. This leaking can lead to vision loss, the formation of scar tissue, and a displacement of the retina known as retinal detachment.
Prevention of Diabetic Eye Disorders
Many of the preventative efforts to reduce the risk of diabetic eye disorders are behaviors that can also be used to manage your diabetes. Some general recommendations include:
- Scheduling regular retinal screening exams
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol
- Monitoring and maintaining your blood pressure
- Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise
- Taking control of your blood sugar level
Treatment options are also available for many of the vision complications referenced above. If you are interested in potentially treating these concerns, please contact our office for further information.