A person suffering from diabetes can also suffer from a number of diabetes complications and must therefore take the time to be educated on all of the ins-and-outs of their condition as well as the signs and symptoms of all the complications. In this article we are going to take a close look at the complications and problems that diabetes can cause to the eyes.

As a diabetic, it’s important to understand that the eyes are the most vulnerable among all your organs. So, in addition to your regular doctor, a nutritionist, dietitian and so forth – you also need to add an Ophthalmologist to your diabetic team and faithfully have yearly eye exams. Let’s take a look at some eye and vision problems that are caused due to diabetes:

Temporary Blurring

Unhealthy levels of blood glucose can cause a temporary blurring of vision. The blurry vision will come and go as the levels of blood sugar rises and falls. By working to maintain your blood sugar in the correct range, the blurry vision will go away. Sometimes blurry vision is one early symptom used in the diagnosis of diabetes.

Cataract

Cataracts is normally associated with aging, however, cataracts are also a part of the diabetic complications to the eye as well. A cataract is a clouding of the lens within the eye and causes the patient to have blurred or dimmed vision.  Diabetics with uncontrolled and persistent high blood sugars are at a greater risk of developing cataracts. The high sugar levels in the blood will cause cataracts to develop and the patient will need to undergo a surgical procedure which will  remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens.

Glaucoma

Because a number of diabetics also suffer from high blood pressure, glaucoma is another eye problem that the diabetic must be watchful of.  High blood pressure causes pressure to build up within the eye itself. This causes damage to the eyes main nerve – the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve can cause a loss of sight, starting with the sides of your vision (Peripheral vision) in its early stages and can and will extend to full vision without proper treatment.  The treatment for glaucoma begins with the use of prescription eye drops used to reduce pressure in the eyes. If the eye drop treatment is unsuccessful or the glaucoma has progressed too far, then laser eye surgery is then used to correct the damage.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the most serious eye complications caused by diabetes. Diabetic Retinopathy is caused from damage to the blood vessels of the retina, which is a layer of tissue located at the back of the inner eye. Its function is to change light and images entering the eye into nerve signals, which reaches the brain and allows us vision.  Damage to the retina occurs of a period of time as high blood pressure and/or high blood sugars which are not controlled cause the tiny blood vessels of the retina to swell and become weak. Over time, these blood vessels become blocked and blood flow to the eye is disturbed or completely cut off. The damage results in slowly progressing vision problem and eventually blindness in one or both eyes. There are two stages of diabetic retinopathy which are called Non Proliferative Stage and Proliferative Stage.

In Non Proliferative stage blood vessels in the eye become larger in certain spots. It is known as micro aneurysms. There may be a blockage in any of the blood vessels in the retina or any amounts of bleeding and fluid leaking into the retina. This bleeding may be caused due to retinal hemorrhages. In proliferative stage of diabetic retinopathy new blood vessels start to grow in the eye that are fragile and can bleed. There may also be small scars on the retina and in other parts of the eye called the vitreous. There is treatment available.

Diabetic Macular Edema (Maculopathy)

Diabetic Macular Edema is caused when the retina in the eye swells due to the leaking of fluid from blood vessels within the macula. The macula is the center part of the retina and is the specialized nerve endings that daytime vision and color recognition depend on. Blurry vision and vision loss progress over a period of time and make it impossible to focus clearly. The lifetime risk of a diabetic patient developing macular edema is approximately 10%, and the condition is closely related to the degree of diabetic retinopathy.

As a child, you may have sung the song “♫♪The hip bone is connected to the …♪♫”, but you may not have realized then how interconnected things truly are. As a diabetic you may have to create new words to the song, because your eyes are connected to your high blood sugar. With careful diabetic control through diet, exercise, blood sugar monitoring , medications and working with your diabetic health care team – you can live an otherwise long and healthy life which includes seeing all the wonders of your world.