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Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetes can change and damage your vision and is the leading cause of blindness in Canada.  The primary disease that diabetes causes is called diabetic retinopathy, though glaucoma and cataracts are also grouped under the “diabetic eye disease” label.  With the rise in cases of diabetes there is also a rise in eye disease.  

How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

Type 2 diabetes (which is the more popular version) is a result of the body not producing enough insulin.  According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), without the correct levels of insulin in the body, the blood sugar levels rise; this can and will damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.  

The CDC (centers for disease control and prevention) say that in 2014 there was 1.4 million new cases of diabetes reported in the U.S.   Along with the new cases of diabetes the CDC stated that there was between 12,000 and 24,000 new cases of blindness due to diabetic retinopathy that occur yearly. More than half of those with diabetic retinopathy aren’t even aware they have it.

About Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes causes abnormal changes in one’s blood sugar levels.  Your body usually takes the sugars and converts it into the energy that is needed to fuel your body and its functions.  With the influx of sugar in the blood vessels (hyperglycaemia), it causes damage to the organs, including eyes.  

Some symptoms that someone with diabetes should look out for are:

  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in vision
  • Eye Floaters and Spots
  • Scotoma – shadows in the field of view
  • Double vision
  • Pain in the Eyes
  • Near Vision
  • Cataracts

Diagnosing & Treating Diabetic Retinopathy

The best way to see if you are suffering from diabetic retinopathy is to visit an Optometrist.  If you are suffering from any form of diabetes you should be visiting an Optometrist on a regular basis to make sure your eyes are functioning as good as they can be.  

If caught early enough, doctors can reduce the chance of blindness by 95%.  

The best way to treat retinopathy is laser therapy.  The use of the laser shrinks the abnormal blood vessels.  This treatment is best done before the blood vessels start to bleed.  Even if they have started to bleed, treatment can still be performed assuming moderate levels of bleeding.

Diabetes is a horrible disease to live with.   And if not managed properly can lead to many other health issues, blindness being one of them.  It is so important that those who are suffering from any form of diabetes stay on top of their eye health so not to go blind.

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