Diabetes can negatively affect eye health over time, leading to blindness. Anyone with type 1, 2, or gestational diabetes can develop such a health problem. But, with proper low vision programs and preventive measures, this can be managed, avoided, or even reversed.
As of 2022, around 37.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. One out of five of these patients is unaware they have the disease. This data makes the call for a proactive and effective response to managing diabetes more critical.
Luckily, we have institutions in the country that offer quality medical and rehabilitation services. Comfort Home Health Agency is one of the best examples. This Florida-based healthcare center provides a wide array of medical services, including a program for diabetic people supervised by a well-trained professional.
How does diabetes affect vision?
Diabetes is a disease that hinders the body’s ability to properly use or produce insulin to control blood sugar levels or glucose. This disease alone affects several health functions, including eye vision.
How? A high amount of glucose can change fluid levels in the tissues of the eyes that help you focus, causing your vision to be blurry. In the short term, this low vision is only temporary; the blurriness may fade once glucose levels reach the standard measure.
However, if left untreated or with no appropriate low vision program and the blood glucose stays at a high amount for a more extended period, it can damage blood vessels in the back of your eyes. This scenario causes blood vessels to leak fluid, swell, and pave the way for new blood vessels to emerge. These new blood vessels can scar some parts of your eye that may lead to severe diseases.
Listed below are the four eye diseases typically caused by diabetes:
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of total vision loss in diabetic people. This disease arises when high blood sugar damages blood vessels affecting the eye’s retina – the inner lining at the back of the eyes that senses light. Damaged blood vessels can bulge or leak into the retina, causing blurry vision and the stoppage of blood flow. In the worst-case scenario, new blood vessels could emerge. This is not good news as these new vessels could lead to serious vision problems.
This eye disease is more common in working-age adults or those 40 years old and older. Noticing and treating diabetic retinopathy at its early stage reduces the risk of getting blind by 95 percent.
Diabetic macular edema
The macula is the part of the retina used for driving, reading, and recognizing faces. Diabetes and poor vision program can lead to swelling of the macula that could eventually cause partial vision loss and blindness.
About half of people diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy also get diabetic macular edema.
Diabetes and glaucoma
There are many different types of glaucoma, but, in this case, it refers to a group of eye diseases that could impair optical health by inflicting damage to the optic nerve at the back of your eyes. Diabetes doubles the chances of getting this eye disease.
It is challenging to find glaucoma’s symptoms, for this progresses slowly. It can only be detected thru a comprehensive dilated eye examination.
Diabetes and cataracts
Developing cloudy lenses within our eyes as we age is common. But, diabetes makes this process much faster through the development of cataracts. Experts say that this sped-up process is due to high glucose levels that fasten the build-up of deposits in the eye lenses.
Other eye issues
- Double vision – diabetes can destroy the nerves that aid the eyes in working together, causing a person to see overlapping images of a single object.
- Blurry vision – quick and frequent changes in glucose level affect the shape eye’s lenses, causing fuzzy vision.
Are diabetic eye diseases common?
Generally, diabetic people tend also to develop diabetic eye diseases that could lead to blindness. Aside from having no or poor low vision program, that risk is higher if high blood glucose and pressure are not immediately regulated. Smoking likewise increases the chances of getting a diabetic eye disease.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the following groups are also linked to having diabetic eye diseases more often:
- American Indians
- African Americans
- Alaska Natives
- Hispanics/ Latinos
- Pacific Islanders
- Older people
The chances of getting diabetic eye diseases are much higher the more prolonged the diabetes is left untreated. That is why detecting early symptoms of such a disease is imperative.
It is hard to detect diabetic eye disease symptoms in their early stage. But, when they start to show, they may include:
- Trouble seeing colors
- Flashes of light
- Blurry or wavy vision
- Frequently changing vision
- Vision loss (dark areas)
- Spots, dark strings, floaters
Solutions and Low vision programs for diabetic eye diseases
Depending on your eye specialist, checking your eyes more than once a year is ideal. This step is essential to correctly determine the status of your optical health and how diabetes influences it. Eye experts may treat eye problems using the following:
- Medicine. Medicines used are specific to block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye and prevent or stop vision loss. Examples are:
- Laser treatment. Compared to anti-VEGF medicines, this treatment is less likely to bring back your lost vision, but it can help keep eye diseases from worsening.
- Cataract lens surgery. Here, the doctor removes the cloudy eye lenses and replaces them with artificial ones.
- Vitrectomy. This treatment is used to treat problems that involve eye tissue scarring by filling the center of the eye with vitreous gel.
Prevention is better than cure. Here are some of the things you could do to delay eye diseases.
- Make an appointment at least once a year with your eye doctor
- Quit smoking
- Keep blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol at the target range.
- Get physically active
With the help of professionals and programs, diabetic eye issues are reversible, but only to an extent. Eye experts may present their patients with low vision programs that may include medicines, surgery, special devices, and training to make the most of the remaining vision. It is essential to have special eye care professionals look into your optical health to accurately determine what you need because the program may vary from case to case.
Comfort Home Health Agency offers quality yet affordable health services in Florida. Contact us today!