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How Does Diabetes Affect Your Vision?

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Diabetes can cause damage to many organs and other systems of the body, including the eyes. Complications from diabetes can cause heart and kidney disease, stroke, and even vision loss. Diabetic eye disease can also put those affected at risk for other vision problems such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetic Eye Disease: How it Can Affect Your Vision

Diabetic eye disease is referred to as a group of eye conditions that may affect people with diabetes. Every form of diabetic eye disease has the potential to cause vision loss or blindness. Eye conditions caused by diabetic eye disease include:

  • Cataracts ­– This is a clouding of the eye’s lens and develops at an earlier age in people with diabetes. Diabetic adults are five times more likely to develop them than those without diabetes.
  • Glaucoma – Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve, which is the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. In adults with diabetes, the risk of glaucoma is almost double that of those without it.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – This occurs when damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina is caused by chronically high blood sugar. The retinal blood vessels leak fluid or hemorrhage. This distorts vision and at its most advanced stage, as new abnormal blood vessels increase in number on the surface of the retina, scarring or cell loss can occur.
  • Diabetic macular edema (DME) – DME is described as swelling in the part of the retina called the macula and is caused by diabetic retinopathy.

Who is Most at Risk for Diabetic Eye Disease?

Anyone with diabetic eye disease is at risk for developing vision problems or vision loss from diabetic eye disease, but some are at a higherdiabetic eye disease risk than others. The National Eye Health Education Program determined that these groups are at a higher risk for vision loss and blindness due to diabetic eye disease:

  • Older diabetic adults
  • American Indians
  • Alaska Natives
  • African Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 15-64. Vision loss caused by diabetic eye diseases, such as glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, cannot be restored, so it is important to see your eye doctor for regular exams where issues can be addressed early and properly treated.

Maintaining Healthy Eyes with Preventative Eye Care

Many eye conditions can begin to develop asymptomatically, showing no signs or symptoms. This makes it easy for some eye diseases, like glaucoma, to go undetected and cause irreversible damage to your vision before you seek treatment.

Here at Dittman Eyecare, we understand the importance of preventing eye disease and preserving your vision. With our proactive testing and treatments, we can use comprehensive preventative care to help you maintain your vision health. Call us today to schedule an eye exam or to learn more about diabetic vision care.

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