Early Detection Slowed Progression
To limit the impacts of diabetes on your vision, get the care you need, ideally sooner rather than later. If we can diagnose your diabetes-related vision problems, or catch early signs with preventative screenings, your chances for improved outcomes go up significantly.
For patients at increased risk of developing glaucoma, including those with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, or other factors, including your race or ethnicity, we recommend regular screening. A previous injury to one of your eyes, or myopia, can also increase your risks of developing glaucoma, and you may need preventative screenings as a result.
Once you develop glaucoma, we can still slow the progression of your condition, and work to preserve your vision. However, catching any eye-related problems early remains your best bet for keeping your eyes working optimally despite your diabetes.
If you have diabetes, and are concerned about possible risks to your vision, contact Smart Eye Care today. You can schedule your initial consultation appointment by calling our Brooklyn, New York office over the phone, or request your appointment online now.
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How Do Blood Sugar Levels Affect Eyesight
High blood sugar levels have a significant effect on eyesight, causing various conditions like blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. What are these conditions and how to they result from high blood sugar levels? Were going to talk about each one, their cause, and any treatment methods available.
What Are The Treatments For Diabetic Eye Problems
Treatment for diabetic eye problems depends on the problem and how serious it is. Some of the treatments include:
- Lasers to stop blood vessels from leaking
- Injections in the eye to stop new, leaky blood vessels from growing
- Surgery to remove blood and scar tissue or replace a cloudy lens
- Eye drops to lower fluid pressure in the eye
But these treatments aren’t cures. Eye problems can come back. That’s why your best defense against serious vision loss is to take control of your diabetes and get regular eye exams. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in a healthy range.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
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How Does Diabetes Affect Eyesight
When you consume high-sugar foods like soda, candy, mangoes, and even pineapples, your body will do one of two things: either it will burn the sugar and use it for energy, or it will convert the sugar and store it as fat.
Ordinarily, when a person consumes sugar, the body releases insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. In people with Type 1 diabetes, the body doesnt produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body produces insufficient insulin or the cells resist the effects of insulin, causing blood sugar levels to spike.
Long Term Effects Of Diabetes
Over time, uncontrolled diabetes or chronic hyperglycemia can cause damage to the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in your eyes.
When the blood vessels in the retina become damaged, diabetic retinopathy, a serious eye disease, can develop.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the retinal blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, causing blurred vision and eventually leading to vision loss.
- Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of permanent vision loss among people with diabetes.
- Half of the people diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy will also be affected by permanent vision loss from diabetic macular edema.
Diabetic macular edema occurs when the fluid from the damaged blood vessels also leaks into the macula, the center of the retina, causing central vision loss and loss of vision for fine details.
Treatments to help slow down the progression of these sight-threatening diseases are aimed at preventing further vision loss. It is therefore crucial to visit your eye doctor for regular eye exams, as per your doctors recommendations.
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Diabetes Puts You At Risk For Vision Problems Heres What Doctors Can Do About It
You may have heard that complications from diabetes are among the leading causes of vision loss. Thats true. Left uncontrolled, diabetes can seriously harm your eyes. But losing your eyesight is certainly not a given.
The reality is that many diabetic eye problems can be treated and managed, as long as you catch it early and follow the treatment plan, says Rahul N. Khurana, M.D., a vitreoretinal surgeon with Northern California Retina Vitreous Associates Medical Group and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Dr. Khuranas best advice? Keep up with your diabetes treatment plan as outlined by your doctorand make getting regular eye exams a priority.
Are you overdue for an eye exam? Now’s the time to book an appointment!
Those yearly checkups, he says, will help your eye doctor spot three of the most common types of diabetic eye problems:
How Do I Know If I Have Blurry Vision
Blurry vision is one of the earliest symptoms of diabetes.
Blurry vision is typically defined as the inability to see images or details of images clearly when your vision lacks sharpness. This can be compared to viewing a picture that contains objects or images out of focus.
Blurry vision can be unilateral, affecting only one eye, or bilateral, affecting both eyes. You may also notice that your vision is either always blurry, sometimes burry, or only blurry on occasion.
Diabetes-related blurry vision may occur for a variety of reasons:
- High blood sugar levels
- Low blood sugar levels
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels
In some cases, blurry vision may be experienced if you are adapting to a new dosage of insulin medication.
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Progression Of Diabetic Retinopathy
Retinopathy can worsen over time. Broadly, there are two stages.
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy
Also known as background retinopathy, this is the early stage, with mild or no symptoms.
At this stage, the retinas tiny blood vessels may become weak and blocked. There may be bulges in them, or fluid can leak out. This can cause swelling in the central part of the retina.
NPDR can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how serious the blood vessel problem is.
Swelling in the retinaor macula edemacan cause vision problems. This is because it is the central part in the back of the eye that allows people to see fine details clearly.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy
This is an advanced stage of eye complications. Blood vessels cannot deliver blood to the retina effectively, because they have closed up. New vessels start to grow to compensate for this. This stage only develops in some people with diabetes. It takes several years to develop.
The growth of new blood vessels does not provide normal blood flow to the retina, however, and it can lead to scarring and wrinkling. In severe cases, it can distort a persons vision. The retina can even become detached, causing a loss of vision.
The fragile new vessels can also bleed out. Symptoms include floating spots in the vision. If a bleed from the retina into the central fluid of the eye is big, a person can sometimes lose sight in that eye. After this, they will only be able to tell light from dark.
What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Eye Disease
Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease. You may have no pain and no change in your vision as damage begins to grow inside your eyes, particularly with diabetic retinopathy.
When symptoms do occur, they may include
- blurry or wavy vision
- frequently changing visionsometimes from day to day
- dark areas or vision loss
- poor color vision
- spots or dark strings
- flashes of light
Talk with your eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
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How Does A Diabetic Eye Exam Work
A diabetic eye exam can occur two ways:
Getting dilated eye examinations are so important, says Cai. This allows your doctors to identify issues early and offer you treatments if you need them to prevent vision loss from diabetes.
Diabetes Can Cause Cataract
A cataract is a condition where the lens in our eyes gets clouded and our vision gets compromised. The symptoms of cataract can vary from faded colors, blurry or doubled vision, poor visibility at night, etc. Generally, cataract is a disease that people get as they grow old. But people with diabetes are more likely to get cataract faster than others.
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Diabetes And Blurred Vision
Don’t run out and buy a new pair of glasses as soon as you notice you have blurred vision. It could just be a temporary problem that develops rapidly and is caused by high blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar causes the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your ability to see. To correct this kind of blurred vision, you need to get your blood sugar back into the target range. For many people this is from70 mg/dL to 130 mg/dL before meals and less than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after the start of a meal. Ask your doctor what your personal target range should be.
Blurred vision can also be a symptom of more serious eye problems. If your vision is blurred, contact your doctor right away.
The American Diabetes Association offers these eye care guidelines for people with diabetes:
- Adults with type 1 diabetes should have a full dilated eye exam within 5 years of their diagnosis.
- Adults with type 2 diabetes should have a complete eye exam soon after they have been diagnosed.
- Get a dilated eye exam if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
What Eye Problems Can Diabetes Cause
Over time, high blood sugar may damage the blood vessels and lenses in your eyes. This can lead to serious diabetic eye problems which can harm your vision and sometimes cause blindness. Some common diabetes eye problems include:
- Diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It affects blood vessels in the retina . The blood vessels may swell and leak fluid into your eye. If it’s not treated, it can cause serious problems such as vision loss and retinal detachment, where the retina is pulled away from its normal position at the back of your eye.
- Diabetic macular edema , which happens when blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the macula . This usually develops in people who already have other signs of diabetic retinopathy.
- Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve . Glaucoma from diabetes happens when the blood vessels in the front of your eye are damaged, and new blood vessels grow near the iris . The blood vessels block the space where fluid drains from your eye. This causes fluid to build up and pressure to increase inside your eye.
- Cataract, which happen when the clear lens in the front of your eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts are common as people age. But people with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts younger and faster than people without diabetes. Researchers think that high glucose levels cause deposits to build up in the lenses of your eyes.
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Five Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyes
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, your doctor will want to check your eyes at least once a year with a dilated eye exam. Diabetes can affect your vision in the long term and the short term. The sooner you treat an issue, the greater the likelihood of reversing it. Left untreated, however, vision issues caused by diabetes can lead to blindness.
Below are five vision conditions to be aware of if you have diabetes. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk factors.
Blurred Vision: High blood sugar levels can lead to a buildup of fluid that moves in and out of the eye, leading to blurriness. Regulating your blood sugar can correct the condition in the short term. However, uncontrolled diabetes can damage small blood vessels, which can permanently damage the retina.
Cataracts: If you have diabetes, you are 60% more likely to develop cataracts, which cause clouding over the eyes lens, blocking your vision. People with diabetes are also at risk of developing cataracts at a younger age. The condition also progresses faster in people with diabetes.
Glaucoma: If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely to develop glaucoma, which causes damage to your eyes optic nerve and can lead to permanent vision loss. Often symptoms dont show up until the disease has progressed. People tend to lose vision slowly or see bright halos or colored rings around lights.
Diabetes Treatment And Blurriness
For people who take medication to increase insulin in the body, changing the timing of food or a change in activity levels can result in low blood sugar levels.
Blurriness from low blood sugar does not result from changes in the eye. Instead, it is due to the way hypoglycemia affects the brain.
Vision that changes in this way will return to normal after glucose levels return to normal.
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Whats The Treatment For Diabetic Retinopathy And Dme
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, your eye doctor will probably just keep track of how your eyes are doing. Some people with diabetic retinopathy may need a comprehensive dilated eye exam as often as every 2 to 4 months.
In later stages, its important to start treatment right away especially if you have changes in your vision. While it wont undo any damage to your vision, treatment can stop your vision from getting worse. Its also important to take steps to control your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Injections. Medicines called anti-VEGF drugs can slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy. Other medicines, called corticosteroids, can also help.
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Reduce Your Risk Of Diabetic Retinopathy
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help prevent it getting worse, by:
- controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- taking your diabetes medicine as prescribed
- attending all your screening appointments
- getting medical advice quickly if you notice any changes to your vision
Read more about how to prevent diabetic retinopathy.
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Regular Diabetes Eye Checks
A regular doctor or optician does not carry out the annual eye check for people with diabetes.
Instead, optometrist or an eye doctorcalled an ophthalmologistperforms this specialist examination.
An eye doctor can then treat any problems that they find. Only ophthalmologists can treat a disease of the retina.
The specialist looks at the back of the eyethe retinaafter making the pupil bigger with a drug delivered in eyedrops.
This is the dilated eye exam, and it detects the signs of diabetic retinopathy, a disease of the retina that results from diabetes.
If a person already has diabetic eye problems, the person will need multiple follow-up checks every year.
During pregnancy, a person should have more regular checks.