Diabetes is a disorder that affects the metabolic process that causes elevated levels of blood sugar either due to insufficient production of insulin or because the body does not efficiently use the insulin produced.
There are a number of ways that diabetes, particularly when it is uncontrolled, can impact your eyes and vision.
One of the most serious ways that diabetes can affect your eye is by damaging the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is one of the most frequent causes of blindness in adults.
Located at the back of the eye, the retina is a critical component for proper vision. Retinal damage can result in permanent blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not entirely eliminate the risk and this is why it is strongly recommended to have an annual retinal exam.
Daily fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which are common in cases where diabetes is untreated, can cause aberrations in the eye's crystalline lens. Because blood sugar levels are associated with the ability of your lens to focus, this can result in blurry vision that varies with blood sugar levels.
Diabetics have a greater chance to develop cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which causes vision problems. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops earlier in life in diabetics.
Glaucoma, which is a result of increased interoptic fluid pressure, can lead to vision loss. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
Having control of your diabetes is the best form of prevention for any of the eye and vision problems associated with the disease. As well as maintaining proper levels of glucose by means of proper nutrition and/or insulin, exercise and refraining from smoking can help. Additionally, it is essential to schedule yearly retinal exams with an eye doctor to diagnose any damage at the earliest stages. Even though often vision loss caused by any of these conditions is permanent, early detection and treatment can often prevent continuing vision loss.