Living a full and healthy life with diabetes takes extra care and attention. While focusing on diet and medication, don’t overlook your eyesight.
Diabetes complications can threaten your eye health and your vision. If left untreated, these complications can lead to blindness.
The first line of defense is managing your blood sugar. Even if you stay on top of blood sugar monitoring, the following conditions can develop over time.
Good practices in diabetic eye care can help you preserve your sight. Three conditions should be of special concern to people with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.
Keep reading to learn more about diabetes and why it’s important to see your eye doctor!
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that impacts the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Over time, high blood sugar damages the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, causing blockages and cutting off blood supply.
As the damage worsens, the eye tries to grow new blood vessels to compensate. Unlike the original blood vessels, they often leak and cause other problems.
Early Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema
In early diabetic retinopathy, also known as nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina weaken. The walls bulge in the smaller blood vessels, causing fluid and blood to leak into the retina.
This blood vessel damage can lead to a buildup of fluid, which is known as edema. When it occurs in the retina’s center portion, called the macula, it is a condition known as diabetic macular edema.
Because the macula is the part of the eye that enables clear, sharp central vision, the result of diabetic macular edema is decreased vision.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy and Neovascular Glaucoma
As damage to the eye worsens, the disease progresses to proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Blockages in the blood vessels and reduced blood flow to the retina trigger the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels.
These blood vessels can leak into the vitreous, which is the clear, jellylike substance in the middle eye cavity. Scar tissue forms, which pulls on the retina and can lead to retina detachment.
When the scar tissue prevents the normal flow of fluid from the eye, pressure builds up. If the pressure is not reduced, this will eventually damage the optic nerve.
This is known as neurovascular glaucoma.
How Does Diabetes Affect Cataracts?
Cataracts are a natural part of the eye’s aging process when the lens begins to cloud. If you have diabetes and your blood sugar is frequently high, that elevation over time can cause structural changes in the lens of your eye.
In turn, this results in the development of cataracts at an earlier age. The presence of macular edema can also increase your risk of cataracts.
Focused Care for Diabetics
As a person with diabetes, you must be even more vigilant about caring for your overall health. Eye health is part of that commitment to your well-being.
It’s important to make an appointment with an eye care specialist at Vision Care of Maine so you can stay on top of your eye care needs and protect your sight.
Is it time for your annual diabetic eye exam? Schedule an appointment at Vision Care of Maine in Bangor, ME, today!