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.
Digestive Endocrine And Circulatory Systems
After you eat, your digestive system breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose. Essentially, glucose is your bodys fuel source.
As your sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose get taken up and used by cells throughout your body. If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you must take the right about of insulin to get the job done.
Any excess glucose goes to your liver for storage.
When you go a few hours without eating, blood sugar levels go down. If you have a healthy pancreas, it releases a hormone called glucagon to make up for the absence of food. This hormone tells your liver to process the stored sugars and release them into your bloodstream.
If everything works as it should, your blood sugar levels should remain in the normal range until your next meal.
Insufficient blood sugar levels can cause a rapid heartbeat and heart palpitations. However, even if you have diabetes, you may not always have obvious symptoms of low blood sugar. This is a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness. It happens when you experience low blood sugar so often that it changes your bodys response to it.
Normally, low blood sugar causes your body to release stress hormones, such as epinephrine. Epinephrine is responsible for those early warning signs, like hunger and shakiness.
How Diabetes Affects The Eyes
Having too much sugar in your blood can damage the blood vessels in the part of the eye called the retina. The retina is the tissue lining the back of the eye.
High sugar levels cause the blood vessels to swell and leak into the retina and cause blurred vision or blind spots. If left untreated, new blood vessels may grow and cause further damage to your vision.
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How The Eye Is Affected
The structure of the eye is like a camera. Light passes through the transparent front lenses, as if through the lenses of a camera, until it reaches the back wall of the eye. This wall contains a very thin piece of light-sensitive tissue: the retina.
The tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina can be damaged by diabetes. The damage can cause the blood vessels to become leaky, like a water hose with holes in it. This is called non-proliferative retinopathy. Fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and into the retinal tissue which can cause vision problems. This causes the retina to thicken, creating blurred vision. The swelling associated with diabetes in the macula, the central part of the eye responsible for staring straight ahead, called diabetic macular edema.
In another process, blood vessels damaged by hyperglycemia close, and a series of events begin. Starving retinal tissue produces growth causing new blood vessels to form on the surface of the retina. When the new blood vessels form, its called proliferative retinopathy.
These new blood vessels are weak and can easily break and bleed. This leads to scar tissue, which can build up on the back wall of the eye and stretch the retina, eventually separating it from the back of the eye. This condition is known as retinal detachment, and it can happen suddenly or slowly over time.
You can have 20/20 vision and still have diabetic retinopathy. Some of the early signs include:
We All Enjoy A Sweet Treat Now And Then But Too Much Sugar In Our Diet Can Come At A Price
Heres how eating excessive amounts of refined sugar can impact your vision and eye health, and how we can help.
Did you know that the average American consumes a shocking 61 pounds of refined sugar per year?
Although delicious, sugar in excessive amounts can pose serious damage to your overall health, including your eyes. In fact, sugar has been linked to several serious eye conditions and diseases.
Although sweet treats may look appealing, they can have a devastating and long lasting impact on the eyes and vision.
High blood sugar levels are a strong risk factor resulting in several sight-threatening eye diseases.
If you have been having issues with your blood sugar levels contact an eye doctor near you to discuss the best options to maintain your clear and comfortable vision.
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How Do Doctors Diagnose Eye Problems From Diabetes
Having a full, dilated eye exam is the best way to check for eye problems from diabetes. Your doctor will place drops in your eyes to widen your pupils. This allows the doctor to examine a larger area at the back of each eye, using a special magnifying lens. Your vision will be blurry for a few hours after a dilated exam.
Your doctor will also
When To See A Doctor
A range of medical conditions can cause blurry vision, and diabetes is just one.
Most people who start to have blurry vision simply need eyesight correction with the help of an optometrist.
However, anyone who develops blurry visionwhether or not they have diabetesshould see a doctor, especially if:
- a problem appears suddenly
- the problem gets worse
Eye problems can stem from new cases of diabetes or a complication of an existing condition.
Anyone who already has a diabetes diagnosis should go for a routine eye examination at least once a year. Regular tests can detect any problems while they are still minor.
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What To Eat Instead
Theres no need to fight those sugar cravings. They happen and they wont go away until theyre satisfied. But, when they happen, you can make an effort to eat the right sugars. Instead of reaching for a cookie or candy bar the next time the craving strikes, grab a handful of fruit.
But, dont grab just any fruit. Youll want a fruit that ranks low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index was created to rank the foods that cause spikes in blood sugar. The food is typically ranked out of 100, with 100 being the largest blood sugar spike.
Here are some fruits that are low on the glycemic index:
Next time you have a sugar craving, ask yourself if going for the candy is worth risking your eye health.
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How Do Health Problems From Diabetes Begin
If your diabetes is not well controlled, the sugar level in your blood goes up. This is called hyperglycemia . High blood sugar can cause damage to very small blood vessels in your body. Imagine what happens to sugar when it is left unwrapped overnight. It gets sticky. Now imagine how sugar sticks to your small blood vessels and makes it hard for blood to get to your organs. Damage to blood vessels occurs most often in the eyes, heart, nerves, feet, and kidneys. Lets look at how this damage happens.
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Does Blurry Vision From Diabetes Go Away
Experiencing blurry vision as a result of diabetes can feel unsettling. Naturally, one of the first things you might ask yourself is how long its going to last.
When the visual disturbance is caused by hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia alone, your blurry vision should go away with time and regulation of your blood sugar. It can take several weeks for your blood sugar level and with it, your vision to return to normal. But the effect may only be temporary.
Blurred vision can come and go any time your blood sugar level fluctuates. If you have diabetes and experience blurry vision , speak with your doctor.
Ways Diabetic Patients Can Improve Their Eye Health
If you are living with diabetes then you know there are many risks that come along with it. Diabetes can lead to nerve and kidney damage and it can also seriously compromise the health of your eyes.
Fortunately, there are ways you can proactively take control of your health and reduce your risk for diabetic eye diseases. Lets look at six ways diabetic patients can improve their eye health:
- Keep your blood sugar under control
Diabetic patients need to keep close tabs on their blood sugar and make sure it doesnt get too high. Elevated blood sugar can change the shapes of your lens, which causes blurry vision. It can also damage the blood vessels in your eyes.
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
If you have high cholesterol, you are at a higher risk for developing eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. By maintaining a healthy cholesterol level you lower your likelihood of developing either.
- Dont smoke cigarettes
Its no secret that smoking cigarettes are terrible for your lungs. But did you know that theyre also bad for your eyes? Smokers are at a higher risk for developing diseases like diabetic retinopathy.
- Get plenty of exercise
On the other hand, exercise is a great way to stay healthy and manage your diabetes. Diabetic patients who exercise regularly do a better job controlling their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get a yearly comprehensive eye exam
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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.
When Should I See A Doctor Right Away
Call a doctor right away if you notice sudden changes to your vision, including flashes of light or many more spots than usual. You also should see a doctor right away if it looks like a curtain is pulled over your eyes. These changes in your sight can be symptoms of a detached retina, which is a medical emergency.
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When To See Your Doctor
If youre experiencing sudden blurred vision together with eye pain, you should go see your doctor and have your eye checked
If your vision has become blurred over time, it could be a sign of an underlying condition, which could be diabetes amongst other possible causes.
Your doctor should be able to help distinguish why your vision may have worsened.
Natural Treatment For Blurred Vision
Eye conditions are the most common cause of blurred vision, but in some cases, the underlying cause can be related to your cardiovascular system. Low blood sugar, high blood pressure, and stroke can also affect your vision.
There are several natural ingredients you can try that will reduce the risk of these factors that can affect your heart and vision.
Low blood glucose: Blood glucose levels affect energy and heart health. Hypoglycemia can trigger heart palpitations, which can stress heart tissues and muscles. Naturally manage blood glucose levels with red yeast rice to prevent vision defects and damage to your heart.High blood pressure: Hypertension is one of the leading causes of a heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. Dietary and lifestyle changes can help blood pressure levels, and so can natural supplements. Studies have shown that red yeast rice and berberine bark extract naturally lower blood pressure. In addition to this, taking capsicum extract promotes blood vessel dilation and enhances circulation. Stroke: The risk of stroke increases with high cholesterol. Niacin, chromium, and pine bark extract are all proven to naturally lower cholesterol levels. In doing so, they reduce the risk of a stroke.
The Link Between Sugar And Your Eye Health
Did you know that your nutrition choices can affect your eye health? This is especially true for sugar intake, a subtle staple of the American diet. At Piedmont Eye Center, we care about your eye health, which means we also care about the foods you eat that can affect it, particularly sugar. So, we have gathered some information for you on how sugar can affect your eye health.
Regular Eye Exams Are Important
All people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy develops over time and often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs.
Following your diabetes ABCDEs and getting your eyes checked regularly by an ophthalmologist or optometrist are crucial to prevent vision loss or keep it from getting worse.
If you have diabetic retinopathy, very effective treatments are available. Your eye-care specialist will explain these to you.
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When To Get An Eye Exam
You should get an eye exam once a year, unless your ophthalmologist or optometrist has suggested something different. The risk of vision loss can be greatly reduced with regular checks. Remember, you may not be aware of changes to your vision and many problems can be treated when caught early.
If you notice any of the following changes to your vision, go see an eye doctor immediately:
- blurred vision
- flashes of light in the field of vision
- sudden loss of vision
- blotches or spots in vision
Diabetic retinopathy can worsen in pregnancy, so if you have diabetes you should have a diabetic eye exam before getting pregnant and while pregnant.
Blood Sugar And Blurry Vision
According to WebMD, 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.
Changing the shape of the lens naturally throws off vision. This can be a chronic, 24/7 kind of problem, or it can occur only after a high-carb meal, when glucose is way up. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide says that after-meal blurriness can be prevented by avoiding high-carb meals.
The cure for chronic, all-the-time blurriness is to get blood glucose down to normal range before meals. It may take as long three months of relatively normal blood glucose levels before vision returns to your baseline normal.
Diabetes can also cause blurriness or double vision due to hypoglycemia . In this case, lens shape is probably not to blame. Low blood glucose can make it hard for the brain to focus on what the eye is seeing. Vision usually returns to normal when glucose levels rise.
If blurriness doesnt go away when glucose levels are close to normal, you might have retinopathy. Thats a condition in which high glucose levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, or the back of the eye, which can cause blindness. Fortunately, its preventable and treatable.
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Diseases Associated With Blurred Vision
Head injury: Any injury to the head is considered to be a medical emergency and can range from a bump or bruise to a traumatic injury. Head injuries can be open or closed, and treatment will depend on the location and severity of the injury. Concussions can interfere with vision, and damage or swelling near the optical nerves will also cause blurred vision.
Low blood sugar: Hypoglycemia is potentially dangerous, and is common among people with diabetes. While high blood sugar can cause swelling in the eye, low blood sugar causes blurred vision or double vision. This can be avoided by monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels.
Cataracts: This is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and occurs with aging. As a result, vision becomes foggy and blurred like looking through a frosted window. Cataract surgery is the best treatment option to restore clear vision.
Macular degeneration: Blurred vision is one of the first symptoms of this eye disease. There is no cure, but there are treatment options such as medications and laser surgery available to help correct vision.
Glaucoma: This is an eye disorder associated with increased pressure inside the eye. The first sign is blurred or double vision, and if left untreated, this can develop into peripheral vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops as well as surgical methods.
How Can I Protect My Vision If I Have Diabetes
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control and getting regular eye exams are the best things you can do to protect your vision.
Whether you have been living with type 2 diabetes for years or if you were recently diagnosed, your care team should include an ophthalmologist who has experience providing eye care for people with diabetes. Your primary care doctor may be able to screen you in their office. If your results are abnormal, they can refer you to an ophthalmologist.1
It is important to have your eyes checked at least once a year, even if your vision has not changed. If you have diabetes, the key to protecting your eyes is catching complications early. When caught early, treatment for even some of the more serious vision complications of diabetes can be very effective.1
Have you experienced blurred vision?
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Am I At Risk For Diabetic Retinopathy
Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy including people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes .
Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. Over time, more than half of people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
Women with diabetes who become pregnant or women who develop gestational diabetes are at high risk for getting diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes and are pregnant, have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Ask your doctor if youll need additional eye exams during your pregnancy.