Diabetes has the potential of impacting many ares of the body and the eyes are one of those areas that can be affected.
Diabetes affects more than 37 million people in the United States which is more than 11% of the population. It's critical that diabetic patients understand how the disease could affect the eyes.
The first indicator of diabetes affecting the eyes is blurry vision. This is caused by swelling of the lens of the eye due to high blood sugar. Stabilizing blood sugar levels can slowly restore your normal vision but you should consult your ophthalmologist to rule out more serious causes.
Diabetics are also at an increased risk of developing cataracts and the cataracts can develop much more quickly as well. Cataracts also cause blurry vision as well as sensitivity to glare. Surgery to replace the lens with an artificial one is the treatment to correct this problem.
The retina's blood vessels can become damaged by high blood sugar levels and, if untreated, lead to blindness, When blood vessels are damaged, this is known as diabetic retinopathy and early diagnosis is important in managing the disease.
High intraocular pressure within the eye leads to glaucoma and damages both blood vessels and nerves. In its early stages, there can be no symptoms. Once again, early diagnosis is crucial and treatment can be done with medication, eye drops. laser treatments or surgery.
It's important to be "eye aware" when managing diabetes and to keep up with regular, dilated eye exams. Coordinating care between the primary care physician and the ophthalmologist helps to ensure the best management of the patient.