Without adequate insulin, the sugar levels in your body will begin to build up and cause complications. Diabetes can affect nearly every structure of the body, including the eyes.
Here are some ways diabetes can affect your vision.
High blood sugar levels can cause temporary blurred vision. Excessive amounts of sugar in an individual's blood can cause the lenses of the eyes to swell.
If your vision becomes blurry due to high blood sugar, you will need to correct your blood sugar levels by bringing them into a healthy range. A healthy range for most people is up to 130 mg/dL prior to eating, and below 180 mg/dL two hours after eating.
Every person is different and therefore has slightly different healthy ranges for blood sugar. To determine what a healthy blood sugar level is for you, consult your doctor.
Some diabetes patients also experience blurred vision during insulin treatment or when blood sugar levels fluctuate. Blurred vision under these circumstances is usually temporary and will only last a few weeks at most. Most doctors recommend waiting a few weeks until your blood sugar levels stabilize before buying new glasses.
In severe cases, blurred vision may be a sign of a more serious condition. If you notice excessive or prolonged blurry vision, contact a doctor.
Glaucoma is a result of pressure building up in the anterior chamber of your eye. This pressure may pinch the blood vessels that normally carry blood to your optic nerve and retina. Without adequate blood flow, glaucoma may cause a person to gradually lose their vision.
People can experience glaucoma even if they don't have diabetes. In fact, every individual over the age of 40 is considered at risk for glaucoma.
Similarly, not every person with diabetes will necessarily experience glaucoma. However, diabetes patients are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma than those without diabetes. The risk of developing glaucoma increases with an individual's age and how long he or she has been diagnosed with diabetes.
Typically, individuals with glaucoma will not experience any symptoms. However, some glaucoma patients have reported losing vision as well as seeing colored rings around lights. Doctors can treat glaucoma with eye drops, drugs, or surgery to reduce the pressure in a patient's eyes.
Retinopathy describes any disorder of the retina that have resulted from diabetes. The two main types of retinopathy include proliferative and nonproliferative.
The following is some general information about each type of retinopathy:
• Proliferative If a person has minor cases of retinopathy for several years, it can develop into a more serious known as proliferative retinopathy. Proliferative retinopathy occurs when damaged blood vessels in an individual's eye close off. As a result, new blood vessels begin to grow in the patient's retina to accommodate blood flow. These new blood vessels are typically weak, leak blood, and block vision. This type of retinopathy can even cause loss of vision in patients.
• Nonproliferative: When capillary veins in the back of an individual's eye begin to form pouches and swell, nonproliferative retinopathy develops. These pouches often block blood vessels, restrict blood flow, and worsen cases of nonproliferative retinopathy over time.
Your chances of developing retinopathy increase with how long you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Most people with type 1 diabetes develop nonproliferative retinopathy. On the contrary, proliferative retinopathy is far less common. You can reduce your chances of retinopathy by controlling your blood sugar levels.
Diabetes patients are at risk for developing these or related eye problems. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that diabetes patients have a dilated eye exam annually to check for potential eye problems. If you have diabetes, visit your eye doctor at least once each year to ensure your eyes are healthy and free of impairments.