What You Need to Know About Diabetes and Your Eyesight

If you have unmanaged diabetes or think you might have diabetes, you should seriously consider having a complete eye exam. Here’s what you need to know about how diabetes affects your eye health. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

The ability to see can be severely compromised by unmanaged diabetes, whether it’s type 1, type 2, or even gestational diabetes. The likelihood of enduring several eye conditions increases with a diabetes diagnosis, including not only diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, but also glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness globally.

Why Diabetes Affects Vision

Diabetes is a medical condition where the lack of insulin in the body causes dangerously high blood sugar spikes. When blood sugar levels aren’t managed, they can lead to an acidic blood supply. This affects the eyes in the following ways:

  • Cataracts. A person with diabetes is at five times the risk for developing cataracts than a non-diabetic person. This is because the eye lens reacts to the high sugar levels in the blood supply by swelling and forming a layer of proteins, which causes the eyes to become cloudy over time. Fortunately, these can be treated relatively easily via cataract-removal surgery.
  • Retinopathy. The blood supply to the eyes is accomplished by tiny blood vessels, or capillaries. The acidic nature of the blood supply will eventually cause damage to the blood vessels that transfer blood to the retina. While the body does replace blood vessels, the new blood vessels are even more fragile than the original ones, and even more susceptible to damage.
  • Macular Edema. Macular edema occurs in approximately 10 percent of people who experience retinopathy. It involves a fluid accumulation in the portion of the retina, known as the macula. The condition results in visual distortion and partial color blindness. Macular degeneration can be treated through surgical intervention.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that is commonly associated with diabetes. In healthy eyes, moisture is continually replaced, so that the eye is less vulnerable to infections. Glaucoma interferes with this process by causing a blockage that results in optic nerve damage. Glaucoma can cause permanent eye damage, so it is important to have your eyes checked regularly, so that it can be addressed early.

Regular Eye Exams Can Protect Your Vision

Having yearly eye exams is not only critical to the successful management of diabetes, but can also help to diagnose diabetes in the early stages. Successful eye care can lower blindness risk by as much as 95 percent, but comprehensive diabetes treatment will reduce blood sugar levels, effectively preventing several types of eye damage.

OptiExpress offers comprehensive eye care services including eye exams. If you are concerned about your eye health, please don’t hesitate to stop by our Ft. Myers, Florida or Cape Coral, Florida eye care center today!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington has provided eye care services to South Florida for more than two decades and is one of Ft. Myers’s most trusted optometrists. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location please visit our contact page.