How Diabetes Affects Your Eye Health

How Diabetes Affects Your Eye Health

As a chronic condition, diabetes impacts most of your body’s cellular action. Cells rely on glucose (sugar) for energy, and the disease inhibits your body’s ability to control and process it. This can have several significant impacts on your overall wellbeing, including your eye health. In fact, the most common cause of blindness in people under the age of 60 is diabetic retinopathy, though other eye diseases are also commonly associated with diabetes.

Common Diabetic Eye Diseases

  • Diabetic retinopathy – Excessive blood sugar is a frequent concern for diabetics and people with pre-diabetes, and in some cases, it can lead to cellular damage. In your eyes, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in your retinas, causing them to swell, leak, or close up. This damage often goes unnoticed until it’s too late; however, if it’s detected and treated early, then the damage can be reversed and blindness can be prevented.
  • Cataracts – Cataracts are most often considered an age-related eye disease, but in patients with diabetes, the condition is much more likely. If the lens and the aqueous humor fluid that it receives oxygen from are exposed to high levels of sugar, the lens can swell and affect the light reaching your retina. High sugar also means that your lens’ enzymes create more sorbitol, which can collect in the lens and lead to or exacerbate the formation of cataracts.
  • Glaucoma – Often referred to as the silent sight thief, glaucoma is another leading cause of preventable blindness in the U.S. For patients with diabetic retinopathy, it’s especially common. In addition to swollen blood vessels on the retina, diabetic retinopathy can also cause abnormal new blood vessels to form on the iris. These new vessels can trap fluid in the eye, increasing pressure and leading to glaucoma.

Yearly Eye Tests Are Especially Important

The effects of diabetes are often seen in the degradation of eye health, which makes yearly eye tests especially important if you have it. To schedule an appointment, call Kirkwood Eye Center in Southlake, TX, today at (817) 416-2010.

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