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Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic Eye Disease

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar (glucose) levels. Too much glucose in the blood for a long time can cause damage in many parts of the body. Diabetes can damage the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. It damages small blood vessels in the eye as well.

What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a term for several eye problems that can all result from diabetes. Diabetic eye disease includes:

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Cataract
  • Glaucoma

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is when blood vessels in the retina swell, leak or close off completely. Abnormal new blood vessels can also grow on the surface of the retina.

People who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Risk also increases the longer someone has diabetes.

Diabetic macular edema

Macular edema happens when fluid builds up on the retina and causes swelling and blurry vision. Diabetes can cause macular edema. Diabetic macular edema can lead to permanent vision loss.

Diabetes and cataracts

Excess blood sugar from diabetes can causes cataracts. You may need cataract surgery to remove lenses that are clouded by the effects of diabetes. Maintaining good control of your blood sugar helps prevent permanent clouding of the lens and surgery.

Diabetes and glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to your eye’s optic nerve. This damage leads to irreversible loss of vision. Having diabetes doubles your chance of getting glaucoma.

What Other Eye Problems Are Related to Diabetes?

Diabetes can cause vision problems even if you do not have a form of diabetic eye disease.

If your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision. Your vision goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. Have your blood sugar controlled before getting your eyeglasses prescription checked. This ensures you receive the correct prescription.

Diabetes is a risk factor for several other eye diseases. They include:

  • Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO)
  • Central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO)

Take Steps to Protect Your Vision

To prevent eye damage from diabetes, maintain good control of your blood sugar. Follow your primary care physician’s diet and exercise plan. If you have not had an eye exam with an ophthalmologist, it is crucial to get one now. Be sure to never skip the follow-up exams that your ophthalmologist recommends.

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