Diabetes Comes with Eye Health Risks
If you have diabetes, you could be one of the millions of Americans at risk for associated eye diseases that can cause vision loss or total blindness. Everyone should see their optometrist for regular eye exams, but having diabetes means you should be extra diligent about your eye care.
Diabetes can increase the risk of developing eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic macular edema. Some of these diseases don’t usually show symptoms during their early stages, so it’s best not to assume you’ll be able to recognize them on your own. Get help from an eye doctor who can spot these eye problems before they severely impact your life.
Eye Diseases Associated with Diabetes
Diabetic Retinopathy & Diabetic Macular Edema
Your eye may also grow new blood vessels in advanced cases, but they’re usually weaker and can continue to leak. Scar tissue can form as a result, eventually pulling your retina away from your eye and potentially causing severe vision loss.
Untreated diabetic retinopathy can also lead to diabetic macular edema caused by swelling in the macula. The macula is a part of your retina that controls central vision, which is essential for many everyday tasks. If your macula swells, you might struggle to read, drive, and even recognize other people’s faces.
Glaucoma is a type of disease characterized by damage to the optic nerve. Most types of glaucoma develop slowly and don’t show symptoms at first, but others can appear abruptly and require immediate medical intervention. All forms of glaucoma can eventually cause total blindness without the appropriate care.
If you have diabetes, you face twice as much risk for open-angle glaucoma, which is already the most common variety. However, seeing your eye doctor allows us to detect this disease and manage its effects.
Cataracts can cause your lens to cloud over, turning your vision pale and foggy. They are caused by proteins forming on the lens of your eye over time and don’t appear in most people until later in life. However, having diabetes increases your risk of getting cataracts at an earlier age.
An ophthalmologist can help remove cataracts surgically, making your vision clear again. Cataract surgery typically involves using an artificial lens to replace the affected one.
When Do I Need Eye Exams if I Have Diabetes?
If you live with diabetes, you should have a thorough eye exam once every year to look for telltale signs of eye diseases. The sooner we can spot a problem, the more we can do to treat or control its effects.
One more thing: if you have diabetes and don’t know it, an eye exam might be the key to finding out! Eye doctors can often spot specific signs of eye damage from diabetic complications, then let you know so you can see your family doctor for a diagnosis.
Eye exams are a vital way for anyone with diabetes to help maintain and preserve their eyesight. Book an appointment at our practice today.