Around 9% of those residing in the United States have diabetes, and approximately 1 out of 3 diabetic adults are affected by diabetic retinopathy A number of ocular complications are actually caused by diabetes, but the most severe of the possible ocular complicates is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes can cause the following ocular complications:
- Sudden Changes in Vision – Blood glucose level fluctuations can often cause the lens inside of your eye to change, which can make your vision change exponentially. This might make you believe you need to update your eye prescription, but in all actuality it is the diabetes preventing your eyes from working properly. Having a sudden dramatic change in your vision is never good, but it can serve as the first detectable sign that you might have diabetes.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – As mentioned previously, this condition is considered to be the most severe of all the diabetes related ocular complications. It affects the small blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to potential blindness or, at the very least, major vision complications if left untreated. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy unfortunately increases the longer someone has diabetes. This risk is only worsened if the person with diabetes exercises poor blood glucose level control.
- Diabetic Macular Edema – Diabetes has been known to potentially cause edema, or “swelling,” of the macula. The macula is responsible for the central part of your vision, without which we be unable to make out a lot of detail. If left undiagnosed and/or untreated, diabetic macular edema could cause scarring to your macula and permanent vision loss.
- Glaucoma and Cataracts – Diabetes raises the risk of developing glaucoma by approximately 40% and cataracts by about 60%. It is possible that diabetes might accelerate the progression of each of these conditions as well making them even more damaging for your eyes.
Having regularly scheduled eye examinations is important, even if eye symptoms aren’t visibly manifesting, especially if you have been medically diagnosed with diabetes because of the increased risks of developing ocular complications. It is best to begin treatment for these diabetes related complications as early as possible, so as to slow the damage to your vision. Symptoms of these complications aren’t always apparent right away, and for that reason it is important to remain in contact with your eye doctor for routine eye exams.