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Eye Risks from Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in increased levels of glucose in the blood either due to inadequate production of insulin or because the body does not properly use the insulin produced (depending on the type of diabetes).

Diabetes can damage your eyes in a number of ways. The damage is often worse when the disease is not being treated.

The most common eye complication of diabetes is one that can lead to destruction of the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This condition is a primary cause of blindness in adults and is called diabetic retinopathy.

Located at the back of the eye, the retina is essential for proper vision. Damage to the retina can cause irreversible blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and therefore it is strongly recommended to have a yearly retinal exam.

Daily variations in glucose levels, largely present in cases where diabetes is uncontrolled, can cause aberrations in the crystalline lens of the eye. Since blood sugar levels have an impact on your lens’s ability to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurry vision that fluctuates with glucose levels.

Cataracts, or a clouding of the lens of the eye, can also develop after some time living with diabetes. Even though many people develop cataracts with age, the risk of having the condition at a younger age is higher in diabetics.

Glaucoma, which is caused by elevated interoptic fluid pressure, can cause 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 diabetic eye diseases. As well as maintaining proper glucose levels through proper nutrition and/or insulin, exercise and refraining from smoking can help. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is critical to have yearly eye exams with an eye doctor to find any possible problems at the earliest stages. Even though it is often the case that any loss of sight caused by diabetic eye disease in any form cannot be restored, further vision loss can be prevented by early diagnosis.

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