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Can Diabetes Make You Go Blind

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How Retinopathy Is Treated

National Diabetes Week: How sugar can make you go blind | 7NEWS

If a doctor diagnoses you with retinopathy at your diabetic eye exam, all is not lost! Tremendous strides have been made in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. These treatments can prevent blindness in most people, but as always, the earlier diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, the better your chances will be.

What Are The Treatments For Diabetic Eye Problems

Treatment for diabetic eye problems depends on the problem and how serious it is. Some of the treatments include:

  • Lasers to stop blood vessels from leaking
  • Injections in the eye to stop new, leaky blood vessels from growing
  • Surgery to remove blood and scar tissue or replace a cloudy lens
  • Eye drops to lower fluid pressure in the eye

But these treatments aren’t cures. Eye problems can come back. That’s why your best defense against serious vision loss is to take control of your diabetes and get regular eye exams. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in a healthy range.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Symptoms Of Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic retinopathy causes blood vessel damage in the retina. Left untreated, it can cause vision loss and can develop into DME.

Approximately 40% to 45% of patients with diabetes have symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, though many don’t notice it. Symptoms can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Floaters
  • Faded, washed out appearance of colors
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision

Diabetic macular edema is a build-up of fluid in the center of the retina, or the macula. This part of the eye is responsible for sharp vision and most of our color vision. Symptoms can include:

  • Blurry or wavy vision in the center of your field of vision
  • Floaters
  • Noticing colors appear faded or washed out

Both forms of diabetic eye disease are treatable. Types of treatment and effectiveness depend on the severity of the condition.

At UT Southwestern, we take a multidisciplinary approach to diagnose and treat diabetic eye disease. If we detect diabetes-related eye symptoms and you have been diagnosed with diabetes, we can recommend that you follow up with your endocrinologist or primary care doctor.

If we see signs of eye damage but you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, we can refer you to a diabetes expert at UT Southwestern. The ophthalmology team works closely with our endocrinology doctors and nurses to make sure you have the treatment and information you need to reduce your risks.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy

The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually dont have any symptoms. Some people notice changes in their vision, like trouble reading or seeing faraway objects. These changes may come and go.

In later stages of the disease, blood vessels in the retina start to bleed into the vitreous . If this happens, you may see dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs. Sometimes, the spots clear up on their own but its important to get treatment right away. Without treatment, the bleeding can happen again, get worse, or cause scarring.

Major Causes Of Blindness From Diabetes

Suffering From Diabetes? Do These Things Or You May Go Blind

This table shows the major causes of blindness in people who have diabetes and what you can do to help prevent vision loss.

Keeping your blood sugar levels and blood pressure within a target range is always important. You also need regular dilated eye exams to help find eye diseases early. Finding and treating eye diseases early can help prevent or delay vision loss.

Major causes of blindness associated with diabetes


How it causes vision loss

How to help prevent it

It damages the retina, the section of your eye that captures visual information.

  • Keep blood sugar levels in a target range.
  • Control blood pressure.

It increases pressure in the eye, which damages your retina.

  • Get regular eye exams to check for the disease.

It clouds the lens, the section of your eye that focuses light.

  • Protect your eyes from ionizing radiation and UV radiation .
  • Keep blood sugar levels in a target range.

Current as of: July 28, 2021

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Prevent Or Delay Eye Diseases

You can protect your vision and lower your chance for vision loss with these steps:

  • Get a dilated eye exam at least once a year so your eye doctor can spot any problems early when theyre most treatable.
  • Keep your blood sugar levels in your target range as much as possible. Over time, high blood sugar not only damages blood vessels in your eyes, it can also affect the shape of your lenses and make your vision blurry.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in your target range to lower your risk for eye diseases and vision loss. Also good for your health in general!
  • Quit smoking. Quitting lowers your risk for diabetes-related eye diseases and improves your health in many other ways too.
  • Get active. Physical activity protects your eyes and helps you manage diabetes.
  • Ask your doctor for a referral to diabetes self-management education and support services. People who receive less diabetes education are twice as likely to get diabetic retinopathy as people who receive more education.

Cbd Was Successful In Rodent Models

Were already using cannabis to treat mice with diabetic retinopathy. Why not humans?

Over the last several decades, legal barriers have prevented scientists from studying cannabis in great depth.

While research in humans is sorely lacking, animal research has already shown that cannabis-based medicines may have a positive effect in diabetic retinopathy.

In 2006, scientists from Georgia discovered that treating mice with an experimental model of diabetic retinopathy successfully reduced symptoms, eased inflammation, decreased neuronal death, and prevented the breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier.

In the study, rats were treated with injections of 10 milligrams of CBD isolate every other day.

Additional research has found that the endocannabinoid system is dysregulated in diabetic retinopathy, indicating that cannabis-based therapies may be useful in treating the disease.

The endocannabinoid system is a neurotransmitter network that helps the body respond to signals from its environment.

The ECS is also the primary way cannabis compounds like CBD engage with the human body, giving the herb medicinal effects.

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Almost All Diabetic Patients Risk Blindness

There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy.

Patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are prone to the development of diabetic retinopathy.

Estimates suggest that after 20 years of type 1 diabetes, nearly all individuals are at risk for development of diabetic retinopathy.

For those with type 2 diabetes, 80 percent of patients with insulin-dependence will develop the disease after 20 years of treatment.

Thus far, there are no cures for diabetic retinopathy.

Though carefully managing insulin levels, laser treatment, and steroid treatment are common courses of action against diabetic retinopathy and managing the progression of the disease if it is caught early.

However, there are few treatments available for effectively reducing the impact of the disease over time.

Vision loss from diabetic retinopathy does not often occur until the disease has become quite advanced.

This means that unless the condition is caught early, it may be too late to reverse some of the damage caused to the eye, increasing risks of blindness.

Diabetes now affects over 108 million people worldwide.

With disease rates on the rise, finding safe and innovative treatments for diabetic retinopathy and other life-altering symptoms is vital.

For the first time, at least one biopharmaceutical company is investigating cannabis-based treatments for ocular conditions like diabetic retinopathy.

But, why do scientists think that cannabis will save diabetics from blindness?

When Should I Seek Care For Diabetic Retinopathy

Can diabetes make you go blind?

If you have diabetes, itâs important to have an eye exam at least once per year. Pregnant women who have diabetes should schedule an eye exam during their first trimester.

Between eye appointments, call your healthcare provider if you notice:

  • Black spots in your vision.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Flashes of light.
  • Holes in your vision.

Anyone who has diabetes has a risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This serious eye condition needs immediate treatment. Without intervention, it can lead to vision loss and even blindness. But timely treatment can prevent vision loss and stop disease progression. The best way to avoid the disease is by managing your diabetes and controlling your blood sugar. Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider if you notice any new vision changes.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/22/2021.


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Diabetes Unlikely To Cause Blindness

Diabetics should not worry about the sudden development of blindness. Blindness is statistically unlikely, and if at risk, a patient has a great chance of maintaining lifelong useful vision.

Todays post is about one of my own observations from over 15 years in practice. While it is a fact that significant vision loss from diabetes is declining, it is not widely known that there is also a very finite time where patients with diabetes can go blind, there is only a finite time while the risk of blindness is highest. In short, the chance of a diabetic patient going blind these days is much less than 0.5%, especially when under the care of an eye doctor.

Let me explain. Recently, I wrote about the decline in the incidence of diabetic patients going blind. The statistics say that severe vision loss was reduced to about 0.3% by 2005-2007 . This is truly great news.

I have two observations 1) I have never had a patient with diabetes go blind if I had been following them before they developed any complications from proliferative diabetic retinopathy, and 2) in most cases, when patients develop signs of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the retinopathy usually becomes controlled within a year and becomes stable. This means they are highly unlikely to lose vision or to go blind. The patients that have gone blind usually wait until they have lost vision before seeking medical attention.

Its really good news that seems to get lost in this information gap.


Diabetes & The Eyes Educational Toolkit

The Diabetes & the Eyes Educational Toolkit offers educational materials on diabetes and the impact of diabetes on eye health in both English and Spanish. These educational resources are intended for healthcare professionals, community health educators, diabetes educators, and anyone in a caregiving or diabetes education role.

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What Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy Should I Look Out For

Diabetic retinopathy tends to progress slowly over a period of time often without causing any symptoms. Patients are generally asymptomatic during the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy. In rare cases, people experience a sudden onset of blindness, without any symptoms and no mild vision problems at first.

Patients with severe and irreversible retinal damage may develop a few symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the eye

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Does Diabetes Increase The Chance Of Vision Loss

Can Diabetes Cause Blindness

For those living with diabetes, symptoms can be a daily challenge combined with the thought of losing your eyesight, it becomes easy to be concerned.

Did you know that diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in adults? This is a frightening aspect to the disease, as most of us take our eyesight for granted. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes do have a heightened risk for eye complications and blindness.

Sight loss with diabetes, however, is not inevitable. Increasing your knowledge about vision health and learning preventative steps to take can preserve your eyesight for many years to come.

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How Diabetes Affects The Eyes

Having too much sugar in your blood can damage the blood vessels in the part of the eye called the retina. The retina is the tissue lining the back of the eye.

High sugar levels cause the blood vessels to swell and leak into the retina and cause blurred vision or blind spots. If left untreated, new blood vessels may grow and cause further damage to your vision.

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Quit Smoking Or Never Start

Youre probably aware that smoking can cause severe health issues like cancer and heart disease.

You may not know, however, that smokers are also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and more likely to experience the diseases which cause vision loss. Smoking increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration which all lead to vision loss or blindness.

Quitting smoking is not easy, but its worth it for your health and improving your chances of keeping your sight well into your golden years.

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Look Out For Any Changes To Your Eyesight

You might not have any symptoms of retinopathy before it starts to affect your sight. So its important to go to your eye screening appointments.

But some people do notice changes to their vision. These wont be the same for everyone, but here are some of the early signs:

  • seeing floaters these look like whispy clouds, floating in and out of your vision
  • dimmer vision like youre wearing sunglasses all the time
  • struggling to see when its dark.

If you notice any changes, or youre struggling to see as clearly as normal, make an appointment with your doctor straight away. Dont wait until your next screening.

Your eyesight can also go a bit blurry if your blood sugar goes higher than usual, even for a short time. This is normal and is a symptom of high blood sugars. Get your sugar levels back to your target level and when theyve settled, your vision should go back to normal.

Myths About Diabetes And Vision Loss

How Long Does it Take for Some Diabetics to Go Blind?

By Amanda Springstroh RN, quality care coordinator at Network Health Originally published on 10/29/2020 at 8:15 a.m.

Diabetes is a condition that tens of millions of people live with here in the United States. Its also one of the most commonly misunderstood conditions.

There are several myths about diabetes and what its like to live with this chronic condition. Lets look at some of these myths and address the relationship between diabetes and blindness a common element to many myths and misconceptions.

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Reducing Your Risk Of Diabetic Retinopathy

To prevent retinopathy or prevent it from getting worse, keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol within a healthy range.

Follow the ABCDEs of staying healthy with diabetes to reduce the risk of eye damage.

A A1C Most people should aim for an A1C of 7%* or less by managing blood sugars well. A1C is a blood test that is a measure of your average blood sugar level over the past 120 days.

B Blood pressure Control your blood pressure to less than 130/80* mmHg.

C Cholesterol The LDL cholesterol target is less than 2.0* mmol/L.

D Drugs to protect your heart Speak with your health-care team about medications.

E Exercise & Eating Regular physical activity, healthy eating, and maintain a healthy body weight.

S Screening for complications Ask your health-care team about tests for your heart, feet, kidneys, and eyes.

S Smoking cessation Stop smoking and seek support for help with quitting.

S Self management, stress, and other barriers Set goals for yourself to reach the targets and live well with diabetes, such as managing stress effectively.

* Discuss your target values with your health-care team. Note that A1C targets for pregnant women, older adults and children 12 years of age and under are different

For more information about diabetic retinopathy, visit the Canadian National Institute for the Blind .

To find a CAO optometrist in your area, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Can You Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy And Subsequent Blindness

The primary reason why DR is diagnosed late is that many of the symptoms are too subtle to catch your attention. Even so, you may be able to detect some symptoms earlier provided you are a good observer of your body functions.

If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.

  • Blurred vision.
  • Floating spots that may clear without any medication. Note that the spots can come back again.
  • Difficulty when looking at colored objects.
  • Dark areas in your vision.

Do These to Protect Your Vision from Diabetic Retinopathy

Early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by up to 95%.

  • Go for an eye check-up at least once a year if you have diabetes.
  • If you have already been diagnosed with DR, get more regular eye check-ups.
  • Diabetic women who get pregnant should meet an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
  • Quit smoking. If you cannot do it on your own, ask your doctor for a smoking cessation therapy.
  • Pay close attention to even minor changes in the vision.
  • Work to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Diabetes should not rob you of your right to enjoy the beauty of everything around you

  • National Eye Institute . URL Link. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  • American Journal of Ophthalmology. URL Link. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  • Mayo Clinic. URL Link. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
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    How The Eye Is Affected

    The structure of the eye is like a camera. Light passes through the transparent front lenses, as if through the lenses of a camera, until it reaches the back wall of the eye. This wall contains a very thin piece of light-sensitive tissue: the retina.

    The tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina can be damaged by diabetes. The damage can cause the blood vessels to become leaky, like a water hose with holes in it. This is called non-proliferative retinopathy. Fluid leaks out of the blood vessels and into the retinal tissue which can cause vision problems. This causes the retina to thicken, creating blurred vision. The swelling associated with diabetes in the macula, the central part of the eye responsible for staring straight ahead, called diabetic macular edema.

    In another process, blood vessels damaged by hyperglycemia close, and a series of events begin. Starving retinal tissue produces growth causing new blood vessels to form on the surface of the retina. When the new blood vessels form, its called proliferative retinopathy.

    These new blood vessels are weak and can easily break and bleed. This leads to scar tissue, which can build up on the back wall of the eye and stretch the retina, eventually separating it from the back of the eye. This condition is known as retinal detachment, and it can happen suddenly or slowly over time.

    You can have 20/20 vision and still have diabetic retinopathy. Some of the early signs include:

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