One of the more common complications of having diabetes is problems with the eyes. Diabetes and the eyes is a big topic in medical circles and is one of the main reasons why managing your blood sugar levels as best you can is essential to leading a normal, happy and healthy life.
All forms of diabetic eye disease can cause blindness. The most common problems when it comes to diabetes and the eyes are – diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edma, cataracts and glaucoma.
The best advice for diabetes and the eyes
The best piece of advice I can give to diabetics is to get an eye exam at least once a year. I always book myself in for a yearly check-up. When I leave the eye doctor I make an appointment for 12 months time so that it automatically occurs. This way I can rest easy that diabetes and the eyes will not be a major issue for me. The more quickly you identify a problem, the more chance you have of saving your eye sight. Early detection of diabetic eye problems can reduce the risk of blindness by over 90%!
A comprehensive dilated eye exam can allow a doctor to check the retina for the following problems:
- Any changes to the blood vessels
- Warning signs of leaking blood vessels from thing such as fatty deposit build-ups.
- Swollen maculas
- Problems with the lenses
- Any damage to nerve tissues
Types of problems
Losing your eye sight is a horrific scenario. The mental anguish and the long term issues for you and your family is almost unfathomable. This is what happens when one of the diabetic problems affects the eyes
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common problem with vision loss when it comes to diabetes and the eyes. This condition is sometimes reversible and sometimes not. This happens when the sugar build-up at the back of the eye puts pressure on the retinal blood vessels causing them to bleed or leak fluid which distorts vision.
Diabetic macular edema happens due to diabetic retinopathy where swelling occurs in the part of the retina called the macula.
Cataracts can fog up someone’s sight like a car’s wind-shield. Diabetics are 2-5 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-diabetics. A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye. However, the cloud is consistently in the way of everything that a person can see. People who get cataracts tend to get them at earlier ages which can cause extreme discomfort. The only way to fix this issue is with surgery. Sadly, cataract procedures are extremely dangerous, and costly.
Glaucoma Fluids in the eye can build up which causes pressure. This can damage nerves, blood vessels, and change vision. This is the most severe problem with the eye from diabetes.
As with all diabetes research in the medical world there have been some exciting breakthroughs but nothing to ensure that diabetic eye problems don’t exist. Recent breakthroughs include a pill that slows the loss of vision. This medication has not yet received approval by regulators but maybe available soon. There are also laser and surgical treatments that are available, some of these maybe costly and risky however. Another treatment involves injecting steroids into the eye to reduce macular edema which can improve a diabetic’s vision.
Volunteer for clinical trials
Doctors and professors across the globe are always looking for volunteers to trial cutting edge medical research. If you are losing your eyesight or fear that you may you can put your hand up to take part in one of these trials. Speak to your medical professional about these trials in your local area.
The last thing any diabetic wants is complications down the track. Like all diabetic complications, diabetic eye problems usually come about after sustained periods of poorly managed blood sugar levels. They can strike at any age but are more common with older diabetics. Problems with the feet, the kidneys and the eyes are but a few issues diabetics risk later in life. Please see my other blog posts on feet problems and also problems with the kidneys.