If you have diabetes, you are at an increased risk for developing certain eye conditions. This is what is referred to as diabetic eye disease. Chronically high blood sugar levels and blood pressure are the primary causes for the eye conditions grouped within diabetic eye disease. All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss or total blindness.
The group of eye conditions that comprise diabetic eye disease are diabetic retinopathy (DR), glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic macular edema (DME). You are not guaranteed to develop one of these eye conditions, just as anyone without diabetes has the potential to develop one of them.
This particular eye disease is the most common form that those with diabetes are at risk for developing. The blood vessels of your retina – the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of your eye – are directly affected by diabetic retinopathy. These damaged blood vessels are weak and tend to leak blood and other fluids into your eye. This leakage causes the retinal tissue to swell, leading to your vision being distorted or noticeably dim.
If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, complete vision loss can be expected.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
This eye condition results from diabetic retinopathy. DME is the result of fluid accumulating in the macula – the part of your retina that controls your ability to see details – due to poorly formed blood vessels leaking fluid.
DME symptoms include:
In order to stop the leakage of fluids into the macula, DME can be treated with a laser procedure.
Diabetes doubles your risk for developing Glaucoma, which is an eye condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve. If glaucoma is left untreated it can result in complete vision loss.
Learn more about glaucoma2.
The clouding of the eye’s natural lens is known as a cataract. Diabetes increases your risk of developing cataracts.
Learn more about cataracts3.
If you have diabetes, or any kind of health condition that increases your likelihood of developing an eye condition, we recommend having a comprehensive eye exam4 every year. Our Optometrist may require an increased frequency of visits if they discover an ocular issue that needs to be monitored closely.
Many of the early stage symptoms of diabetic eye disease are gradual and silent, damaging your vision before you notice them. The only way to stay on top of your overall eye health is to have regular eye exams. The earlier our Optometrist is able to detect potential eye conditions, the more likely they are able to prevent you from experiencing complete vision loss.