How Does Diabetes Affect Vision?
Diabetes inhibits the body’s ability to effectively produce or use insulin to control blood sugar levels. A diagnosis of diabetes brings about constant variables to manage in order to keep the body functioning properly, with diet and exercise as the most important factors to manage blood sugar levels. In addition to ensuring the organs and nerves aren’t affected by the symptoms of diabetes, it is not uncommon for diabetes patients to notice changes in their vision. In fact, many patients tend to have better or worse vision from one day to the next without really knowing why. The fluctuation in vision quality occurs due to changes in blood sugar levels. A diagnosis of diabetes means that the body causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal.
High blood glucose levels can cause swelling to the lens of the eye creating a need for a prescription change or disruption to vision such as blurred vision. Diabetes can also bring about diabetic retinopathy where high blood sugar damages blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye. Damaged blood vessels can swell and leak causing blurred vision and stopping of blood flow. Retinal damage increases the risk for serious vision loss. Diabetics have a greater risk by up to 20 times of suffering from vision loss. Other diabetic eye diseases include macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. Comprehensive eye exams at Associated Retina Consultants allow our ophthalmologists to check for changes in the lens of the eye, changes in blood vessels, changes to the macula and nerve tissue damage.
About 30 million adults in the United States have diabetes, 90% of them with Type 2 diabetes; 1 in 4 working adults has undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. These patients are often surprised when they come in for an eye exam and leave with a referral to be evaluated for diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can have dire consequences for vision. Vision changes are not usually present until 5-10 years after diabetes develops, however, that does not mean that patients should not be proactive to control blood sugar to limit the harm that diabetes can cause to the eyes.
For a comprehensive exam complete with retinal imaging, contact our office at 602-242-4928 or for more information about how diabetes affects vision, click here WEBSITE.