How Diabetes is Linked to Eye Health

There’s an intricate link between diabetes and eye health.

In some cases, your optometrist may be able to detect the onset of diabetes before a regular doctor can. As diabetes worsens, a condition called diabetic retinopathy sets in. Chronically high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina causing symptoms, such as fluid leaks, bleeding, or distorted vision. In more advanced stages of retinopathy, this leads to the number of blood vessels increasing on the surface of the retina, which then leads to scarring, cell loss, and eventual blindness.

Diabetes is linked to eye health and a few other eye diseases are too. A person with diabetes is 60% more likely to develop cataracts and 40% more likely to develop glaucoma—two eye problems, which can cause vision complications or even blindness, if not treated.

Diabetes can manifest itself in your eyesDiabetic Retinopathy

There are two types of diabetic retinopathy. The first, as described above, is characterized by changes in the blood vessels and tissue in the retina. The second is called macular edema and is associated with swelling in the macula area of the retina.

The good news is: most people can be effectively treated for this condition. In many cases, the vision loss can be stopped or reversed. Several new therapies exist to treat diabetic retinopathy and many are effective, especially if started early.

In addition to treatment, the best thing the diabetic can do for their own eye health is to keep their diabetes under control. Taking prescribed medications, eating healthy and exercise can all help delay or prevent vision loss.

Why People With Diabetes Should Get Regular Eye Exams

An estimated forty percent or more of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some sort of retinopathy. The more frightening statistic is that about half of those individuals aren’t aware of it. That’s why annual eye exams are extremely important because diabetic retinopathy can go unnoticed until serious vision problems set in. A diabetic person should have their eyes examined regularly to prevent this. At a minimum, an annual eye exam is recommended. In some cases, where problems exist or persist, diabetics should consider an even more frequent schedule.

Because diabetes is linked to eye health, your Eyeglass World optometrist can test for diabetic retinopathy through pupil dilation and tests that will show what’s actually going on inside your eyes. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, having your eyes checked annually allows your optometrist to keep a careful eye on any subtly developing symptoms that you may not be able to detect yourself.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had an eye exam call your nearest Eyeglass World optometrist to schedule your appointment today. (Locate your store here!) Your eye health is too important to wait!