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Eye Issues Caused By Diabetes

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What Are The Treatments For Diabetic Eye Problems

Eye Problems with Diabetes – Bleeding in the Eye

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

How Does Diabetes Affect My Eyes

Diabetes affects your eyes when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.

In the short term, you are not likely to have vision loss from high blood glucose. People sometimes have blurry vision for a few days or weeks when theyre changing their diabetes care plan or medicines. High glucose can change fluid levels or cause swelling in the tissues of your eyes that help you to focus, causing blurred vision. This type of blurry vision is temporary and goes away when your glucose level gets closer to normal.

If your blood glucose stays high over time, it can damage the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eyes. This damage can begin during prediabetes, when blood glucose is higher than normal, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with diabetes. Damaged blood vessels may leak fluid and cause swelling. New, weak blood vessels may also begin to grow. These blood vessels can bleed into the middle part of the eye, lead to scarring, or cause dangerously high pressure inside your eye.

Most serious diabetic eye diseases begin with blood vessel problems. The four eye diseases that can threaten your sight are

How Diabetes May Affect Your Eyes

The tiny blood vessels present within your eye tend to suffer serious damage when your blood sugar level surges above normal the higher the blood sugar level, the greater the chances of damage to your eyes.

Your retina can suffer from various types of problems due to diabetes, collectively referred as microvascular abnormalities. Diabetes makes tiny vessels present in your retina highly susceptible to unnatural expansion and rupturing, resulting in blood leakage and the phenomenon is known as microaneurysms.

To understand how elevated blood sugar levels affect your eyesight in various different manners, lets move on to the connection of the eye diseases mentioned above with the diabetes in the following passage.

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What Are The Telltale Symptoms Of Dry Eyes

Your eyes produce tears constantly throughout the day. Dry eye happens when your eyes do not have the tears they need to stay moisturized and healthy.

Your eyes cannot function properly without healthy tear production. When your eyes do not produce enough tears, it can cause eye irritation and a variety of other eye symptoms, such as:

  • trouble wearing contact lenses
  • sensitivity to wind or sun

Sometimes, dry eye can be a temporary condition that goes away on its own. This can be the case when dry eye syndrome is not caused by diabetes. For instance, your eyes may be dry because you spent time in a very dry or windy environment, or because you wore your contact lenses for too long.

However, dry eyes caused by diabetes or another underlying health issue will need to be addressed by a medical professional.

Its a good idea to see a healthcare professional if you experience dry eye symptoms that do not clear up after a couple of days.

Who Is More Likely To Develop Diabetic Eye Disease

Why Does Diabetes Cause Blindness

Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease. Your risk is greater with

  • high blood glucose that is not treated
  • high blood pressure that is not treated

High blood cholesterol and smoking may also raise your risk for diabetic eye disease.

Some groups are affected more than others. African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and older adults are at greater risk of losing vision or going blind from diabetes.

If you have diabetes and become pregnant, you can develop eye problems very quickly during your pregnancy. If you already have some diabetic retinopathy, it can get worse during pregnancy. Changes that help your body support a growing baby may put stress on the blood vessels in your eyes. Your health care team will suggest regular eye exams during pregnancy to catch and treat problems early and protect your vision.

Diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes, does not usually cause eye problems. Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case.

Your chances of developing diabetic eye disease increase the longer you have diabetes.

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Is Diabetes Affecting Your Eyes 7 Signs Of Diabetic Eyes

Diabetes is becoming an increasingly alarming problem in the US. The estimated number of people over the age of 18 with diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, is 30.2 million-or roughly 30% of the population. The effects of diabetes can be disastrous, especially on the eyes, known as diabetic eyes. At Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia, our vision is to set the standard in affordable, quality healthcare, including diabetic eye exams.

Know Your Blood Sugar Levels

Consistently high blood sugar levels make you more at risk of diabetes complications, including serious eye problems.

Knowing what your target levels are and regularly checking your blood sugars can help you keep on top of them. This means checking your blood sugar levels at home and getting a doctor to check your HbA1c levels regularly too.

Your healthcare team should help you set your targets. The closer you get, the lower your risk of developing eye problems.

If youre finding it difficult to keep your blood sugar levels to your target range, speak to your healthcare team for advice. Or you can call our helpline for more information and support.

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What Eye Complications Can Stem From Diabetes

Diabetes, no matter the type, can increase your risk for many serious health problems. Luckily, with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, the onset of complications can be delayed if not avoided altogether. One of the most widely known and talked about complications that arise from diabetes are eye complications.

There Are Currently About 29 Million People In The Us Diagnosed With Diabetes And 86 Million Diagnosed With Pre

The Doctor Is In to discuss diabetic eye diseases

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar, or blood glucose, levels are too high. Over time, these high levels of blood glucose can damage your eyes. Currently, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. There are several common eye diseases caused by diabetes. The most common are cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy.

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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.

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.

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Diabetes And Vision Loss

Get a dilated eye exam at least once a year to protect your eyesight.

Diabetes can damage your eyes over time and cause vision loss, even blindness. The good news is managing your diabetes and getting regular eye exams can help prevent vision problems and stop them from getting worse.

Eye diseases that can affect people with diabetes include diabetic retinopathy, macular edema , cataracts, and glaucoma. All can lead to vision loss, but early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way toward protecting your eyesight.

What You Should Expect From An Eye Exam

Diabetic Eye Disease: What You Need to Know

Your ophthalmologist will first check for any changes to your glasses or contact lens prescription. People with many diabetes related problems with their vision can still wear contact lenses.

The doctor will then dilate your pupils and examine the retina. The drops used may sting for a short time. About 20 to 30 minutes later, your eyes will be fully dilated. With the use of special lenses and lights, the doctor will visually examine your retina.

To detect retinopathy, the doctor looks at all the retinal tissues. For signs of macular edema, the doctor looks at the macula in the back of your eye, but this may not be enough for a diagnosis. Your doctor may perform an optical coherence tomography, which is a laser exam of the back of the eye. While the retina is very thin, the test can measure retinal thickening as small as a thousandth of a millimeter.

A fluorescein angiogram is a test that can detect diabetic retinopathy. During the test, a dye is injected into your arm. Within 45 seconds, the dye reaches the back of the eye. Just like how blood leaks from weak blood vessels, so does the dye. Special photographs help document the results.

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How The Eye Works

To understand what happens in eye disorders, it helps to understand how the eye works. The eye is covered with a tough outer membrane. The covering in front is clear and curved. This curved area is the cornea, which focuses light while protecting the eye.

After light passes through the cornea, it travels through a space called the anterior chamber , through the pupil , and then through a lens that performs more focusing. Finally, light passes through another fluid-filled chamber in the center of the eye and strikes the back of the eye, the retina.

The retina records the images focused on it and converts those images into electrical signals, which the brain receives and decodes.

One part of the retina is specialized for seeing fine detail. This tiny area of extra-sharp vision is called the macula. Blood vessels in and behind the retina nourish the macula.

How To Tell If Diabetes Is Affecting Your Eyes

by Matossian Eye Associates | Nov 6, 2020

It goes without saying that individuals with diabetes must give the highest priority to getting blood sugar stabilized. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a whole host of complications and body damage that theres simply not space to explore here. So, well stick to what we know best: vision care.

Below are four of the most common eye complications from diabetes, plus the single biggest thing you can do to avoid them:

  • Diabetic retinopathy. This is a common condition for diabetic patients and occurs when diabetes damages blood vessels in the eye. This damage causes symptoms such as blurry vision, floaters and black spots in the field of vision, retinal swelling , poor color perception and even blindness.
  • Glaucoma. Pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve leading to glaucoma. Onset can be sudden and will present itself with blurriness, eye pain and redness, nighttime halos, headaches and more.
  • Cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of developing cataracts, which gradually cloud the lens of the eye. The symptoms are similar to glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy but may also include double vision, light sensitivity and night blindness.
  • Infections of the eye. Diabetes inhibits the ability to fight infections, including infections of the eye. This can show up as a bacterial infection of the eye or as a painful sty.
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    Basic Functioning Of A Human Eye

    An eye can be considered as a ball covered within a tougher outer membrane. The frontal covering comprises of a clear and curved surface, the cornea, which is responsible for focusing light in addition to protecting the eye.

    The cornea allows light from the outside to pass through it to an anterior chamber filled with aqueous humor, a protective fluid. This light is then carried through the pupil, which is basically a hole in colored region of the eye called iris. This light is then led through a lens deep within the eye meant for more focusing. Finally, theres another fluid-filled chamber right in the center of the eye through which the light passes, striking the retina at the back of the eye.

    Manage Your Blood Sugar Like A Pro

    Eye Problems with Diabetes

    Over time, elevated blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels that provide oxygen and other vital nutrients to the retina, nerves, and other soft-tissue structures within your eyes. This often begins during the prediabetic phase, when your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough for a formal diagnosis of diabetes.

    Most sight-threatening diabetic eye diseases begin with damage to these blood vessels. Keeping your blood sugar normal through diet, exercise, and prescribed medications can keep your blood vessels healthy and your eyesight intact.

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    Regular Eye Exams Are Important

    All people with diabetes are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy develops over time and often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs.

    Following your diabetes ABCDEs and getting your eyes checked regularly by an ophthalmologist or optometrist are crucial to prevent vision loss or keep it from getting worse.

    If you have diabetic retinopathy, very effective treatments are available. Your eye-care specialist will explain these to you.

    Keep Up With Routine Eye Exams

    If you are diabetic or are at risk of diabetes, its critical to have a yearly eye exam so your eye doctor can check on the health of your eyes.

    All of the diabetic eye problems listed above can be avoided by controlling your blood sugar and by having routine eye exams to ensure your eyes remain as healthy as possible.

    Page updated in January 2022

    Schedule an exam

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    Diabetic Retinopathy And Diabetes

    The retina in your eye is designated with detecting the light, interpreting it into electrical impulses and passing them on to the brain through the optic nerve. The raised level of sugar in blood due to diabetes ends up damaging tiny blood vessels within the retina, leading to blood and fluid leakage which is described as the Diabetic Retinopathy or DR. This fluid leakage can distort vision over time, also leading to vision loss and blindness.

    The progress of diabetic retinopathy can be classified into four stages:

  • Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy: This is the earliest stage of DR, which is characterized with appearance of microaneurysms in tiny blood vessels of retina. Fluid may leak into retina through these microaneurysms.
  • Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy: Through this stage of DRs progress, swelling and distortion also appears in blood vessels nourishing retina. It also affects their blood transportation capability and might lead to DME or Diabetic Macular Edema.
  • Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy: By this stage, plenty of blood vessels in the retina are blocked, cutting down blood supply to a considerable area inside it. This leads to the growth of new blood vessels in these areas, as they signal the retina by secreting growth factors.
  • Treatment Options For Diabetic Eye Disease

    Diabetic Retinopathy :: Eye Health Central

    Your provider will work with you to develop an optimal treatment plan. Two of the most common strategies to manage diabetic eye disease include controlling your diabetes and medical management.

    Control your diabetes

    We typically recommend three key steps to control your diabetes:

  • Make healthy lifestyle choices. Physical activity, such as walking or doing yoga, should be part of your daily routine. Prioritize eating a healthier diet that includes more fiber, such as beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and fewer carbohydrates.
  • Watch your blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor how often to monitor and record your sugars. Testing your A1C levels regularly can help you stay on track.
  • Take your medications as prescribed. Sometimes blood pressure or cholesterol medication can affect your blood sugars. It’s important to take these medications as prescribed and to work with your doctor to adjust dosages if your sugar rises too high.
  • Eye medication

    During regular office visits, your ophthalmologist can administer medications directly into the eye. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy is a commonly used medication treatment to reduce retinal swelling and inhibit blood vessel growth in the retina.

    Another option is corticosteroid medication, which can reduce inflammation caused by diabetic retinopathy.

    Eye surgery

    To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from a check-up with an ophthalmologist, call or request an appointment online.

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