What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can change people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Over time, diabetes can cause damage to your eyes that can lead to poor vision or even blindness.
The best ways to manage your diabetes and keep your eyes healthy are to
- manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, sometimes called the diabetes ABCs
- If you smoke, get help to quit smoking
- have a dilated eye exam once a year
What Other Eye Problems Are Related to Diabetes?
If your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision. Your vision goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. Have your blood sugar controlled before getting your eyeglasses prescription checked. This ensures you receive the correct prescription.
Diabetes is a risk factor for several other eye diseases. They include:
- Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO)
- Central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO)
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic eye disease
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy (DR) and other diabetes-related eye disease include:
- Fluctuating vision
- Eye floaters and spots
- Development of a scotoma or shadow in your field of view
- Blurry and/or distorted vision
- Corneal abnormalities such as slow healing of wounds due to corneal abrasions
- Double vision
- Eye pain
- Near vision problems unrelated to presbyopia
During an eye examination, your eye doctor will look for other signs of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic eye disease. Signs of eye damage found in the retina can include swelling, deposits and evidence of bleeding or leakage of fluids from blood vessels.
Diabetes and Glaucoma
The relationship between diabetes and open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma), has intrigued researchers for years.
Neovascular glaucoma, a rare type of glaucoma, is always associated with other abnormalities, diabetes being the most common. In some cases of diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels on the retina are damaged.
Neovascular glaucoma can occur if these new blood vessels grow on the iris (the colored part of the eye), closing off the fluid flow in the eye and raising the eye pressure. Neovascular glaucoma is a difficult disease to treat. Recent studies have also shown some success with the use of drainage implants.
Don’t buy a new pair of glasses when you notice you have blurred vision. Blurred vision can develop rapidly and can be due to high blood glucose levels. High blood glucose causes the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your ability to see.
To correct this kind of blurred vision, you need to get your blood glucose level back into the target range (80-140 mg/dl before meals, and 100-160 mg/dl before bedtime snack).If your vision is blurred, contact your doctor.
The best way to prevent or delay the onset of eye diseases is still optimal control of your blood glucose (sugar) levels.
It is also beneficial to:
- control your blood pressure
- control the levels of fat (cholesterol) in your blood
- quit smoking