Every time someone with diabetes checks their blood sugar to ensure that it is in the normal range, they are also protecting their eyesight. Uncontrolled blood sugar can harm a number of organs in the body, including the eyes.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages people with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision. To create greater awareness of the disease and the risk factors, the group has reserved this month as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.
Keep reading to learn more about why we need to observe Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month!
A Health Issue Affecting Millions
Diabetes is a condition that 37.3 million people live with, that’s 11.3% of the population. However, another 8.5 million are living with undiagnosed diabetes.
If you don’t know you have diabetes and don’t control your blood sugar, you could be doing damage to your body, especially your sight. Diabetes can harm the retina, the optic nerve, and the lens of the eye.
The damage is often permanent and irreversible. Those most at risk of developing diabetes are often the last to know how the condition affects them.
Blurry Vision: an Early Indicator
Blurry vision is sometimes the first indication that you may have diabetes. Rapid fluctuations in blood sugar can cause blurry vision.
If your blood sugar levels change quickly, it can alter the shape of your eye’s lens and affect your sight. Once your blood sugar stabilizes, your vision typically returns to normal.
If you’re experiencing blurry vision, mention it to your eye doctor or primary care doctor so you can be tested.
Diabetic Eye Disease
People with diabetes are more likely to develop certain eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts.
This eye condition affects the blood vessels in the retina. They can swell, leak or close off completely, and abnormal new blood vessels can grow on the surface of the retina.
Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema is fluid buildup on the retina, which causes swelling and blurry vision. This can lead to permanent vision loss.
Cataracts are the clouding and thickening of the eye’s natural lens of the eye. Although they are typically age-related, they can develop earlier in life when blood sugar is not well-controlled.
Uncontrolled blood sugar can accelerate cataract formation. To improve vision, cataract surgery is required to remove the old lens and replace it with an artificial one.
Glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions that cause damage to the eye’s optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve leads to vision loss.
If new blood vessels grow inside the retina due to diabetes, they may block off the eye’s natural drainage structures. If this happens, fluid will not be able to leave the eye efficiently, creating high eye pressure and glaucoma.
While occasional blurriness can be normal, if you’re experiencing changes in your vision and have diabetes, don’t delay seeking medical advice. Tell your eye doctor about your symptoms so they can diagnose you and develop a treatment plan.
Stay on Top of Diabetes
Managing your diabetes should be part of your daily routine and isn’t difficult. To regulate your blood sugar and keep it within normal range, eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, ensure your diet is balanced, watch your carbohydrate intake and reduce added sugars.
It is also important to include regular exercise. Keep your body healthy, and your eyes will stay healthy too.
Are you experiencing symptoms of diabetic eye disease? Schedule an appointment at Eyecare Medical Group in Portland, ME, today!