What Eye Problems Can Diabetes Cause?
If left untreated and unmanaged, diabetes can cause a myriad of health problems, including serious vision issues. Did you know that diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 20-74? If you have diabetes, it’s crucial to make diabetic eye exams a regular part of your healthcare routine to help prevent or manage diabetes-related eye diseases. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to help protect your eyesight.
What conditions do diabetic eye specialists treat? If you have diabetes, there are many diseases that you are susceptible to, including:
One of the main eye diseases that diabetics can develop, diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease that is characterized by the presence of weakened, fragile, and damaged blood vessels in the retina. Symptoms may not be noticeable in the beginning stages of this disease, but advanced stages can cause bleeding inside the eye and scar tissue formation that can lead to sight-threatening tractional retinal detachments.
Diabetic Macular Edema
When the abnormal blood vessels caused by diabetic retinopathy leak fluid into the central portion of the retina, it is known as diabetic macular edema. As the fluid gathers, the central portion of the retina begins to swell. This will typically decrease your central reading vision and, if not treated properly, can lead to permanent central vision loss.
You may have heard of glaucoma, as it is one of the most common causes of permanent vision loss in older adults. But did you know that diabetics are twice as likely to develop this condition? Glaucoma is defined by damage to the optic nerve caused by excessive pressure within the eye and can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Blind spots in central or peripheral vision
Cataracts are a common eye condition in which the ocular lens becomes cloudy. They typically develop slowly over time and can impair vision in several ways, including:
- Dulled color perception
- Double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Poor night vision
Other Retinal Conditions
There are many other retinal conditions that diabetes can increase your risk for developing. These include:
- Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration - A disease in which the macula deteriorates, and abnormal neovascularization occurs.
- Retinal Vein and Artery Occlusions - A group of conditions that cause issues in the retinal vascular system.
- Retinal Detachment – A serious eye condition in which the retina has separated from the underlying layers of the eye.
If you are proactive about your vision health, there is a better chance of maintaining and preserving vision for many years to come.