Diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans. This nasty disease affects 8% of the population and damages countless organ functions in those individuals. And of those 25.8 million, 4.2 million have vision problems associated with diabetes.
The three most common eye problems that come along with diabetes are glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Too much blood sugar can build up and damage nerves and blood vessels in the body. When that damage happens in the blood vessels of the eyes it can lead to vision loss or blindness.
Glaucoma is 40% more likely to happen to those diagnosed with diabetes. When fluid inside the eye doesn’t drain properly it creates pressure inside the eye. This pressure damages nerves and blood vessels in the eye which leads to blurring of vision.
With open-angle glaucoma there are usually no warning signs until the disease has set in its advanced stages including vision loss. The pressure in the eye brought by open-angle glaucoma can usually be alleviated by medication. This treatment can also reduce or stop the production of fluid in the eye.
Cataracts are 60% more likely to occur in individuals with diabetes. A cloudy layer covers the lenses of the eye and makes it so you can’t focus on light which impairs vision. Poor control of blood sugar speeds up this condition. Cataracts happen at a younger age and progress at a faster rate than those who don’t have diabetes.
This condition is treated by surgery. The eye’s natural lense is removed or cleaned out. It is then replaced with a clear, artificial lense. Sometimes diabetic retinopathy is worsened with cataract surgery.
3.) Diabetic Retinopathy
The retina senses light coming in to the eyes. When blood glucose builds up, the blood vessels in the eyes become damaged resulting in diabetic retinopathy.
Over time these blood vessels develop fragile tears in the vessel walls which can leak fluid. The weakened vessels then make their way throughout the retina which can cause blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in those with diabetes. The longer you have diabetes the more likely you are to develop this eye problem. If it is not found in its early stages nor is it treated then it will lead to blindness.
Annual eye exams are especially important for those with diabetes. A thorough eye exam can detect eye problems when they are at their best to be easily treated. This also prevents further loss of sight.