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Diabetes and the Eye

The eye is particularly sensitive to the effects of elevated blood sugars. Most serious are the effects that diabetes can have on the retina, but can also lead to early cataracts and diabetics have an increased risk for glaucoma. Having diabetes for a longer period of time increases the chance of having diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is also more likely to occur earlier and be more severe if diabetes is poorly controlled. Nearly everyone who has had diabetes for more than 30 years will show some signs of diabetic retinopathy. The best way to prevent diabetic eye disease is to consistently keep blood sugars and blood pressure in the low normal range.

All diabetics should have a comprehensive dilated examination at least on a yearly basis. Diabetic retinopathy is a term for disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in younger Americans. The two main types of retinopathy are nonproliferative and proliferative. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness without treatment.

If it has been more than a year since you last had an examination, you recently became pregnant or just started an exercise program, please contact us to set up an appointment for an eye examination.

Diabetic Eye Disease

It can effect several parts of your eye including the cornea, the lens and the retina. Diabetes can lead to a softness of the skin of the cornea. The cornea is the clear tissue that is found on the front of the eye. Diabetics are more prone to the problem of Recurrent Erosion Syndrome which can cause one to awake early in the morning with pain in the eye.

When blood sugars go up in diabetics, the lens of the eye swells. This is the reason that glasses that were perfect one day may not be so good a few days later. It can take several weeks to bring the lens size back to normal when blood sugars normalize. This repeated cycle of swelling and deturgescence can cause cataracts. Those with diabetic eye disease can expect to need cataract extraction at a younger age than many of their peers.

Most important to diabetics are the changes that occur to the retina called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes causes areas of the retina to lack oxygen. This then leads to the growth of new blood vessels in an attempt to supply more oxygen to these areas. Instead of the blood vessels being a good quality blood vessels, these new blood vessels leak blood as well as protein and fat leading to swelling of the surrounding retina as well as hemorrhages inside of the eye.

We have a wide variety of treatment options available for treatment, but the key is to catch the problems early and before catastrophic changes occur. This is why all diabetics need an eye exam at least yearly if not more often.