Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes and Your Eyes

As one of the 34 million Americans with type 2 diabetes, you probably know this common disease can lead to heart complications, kidney disease, and nerve damage in your arms and legs. But, are you aware of how diabetes can affect your eyes?

Our experienced optometrists, Dr. Sean Stevens and Dr. Tiffany Brawner, of ReVision Optix in Simpsonville and Greenville, South Carolina, offer comprehensive eye care for people with diabetes. Here’s what you need to know about diabetes and your eyes, along with steps you can take to promote healthy vision. 

Diabetes overview

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, occurs when your body doesn’t respond to insulin as it should. Your pancreas produces the hormone insulin, so your cells can process blood sugar and turn it into energy. When you have type 2 diabetes, you become insulin resistant, which makes your pancreas produce too much insulin as a way to prompt a response from your cells. 

Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the problem, and you end up with high blood sugar. Over time, untreated high blood sugar can cause serious health problems, including: 

Diabetic vision loss is typically the result of diabetic retinopathy, and diabetes also puts you at a high risk for cataracts and open-angle glaucoma, which can also cause blindness.

Diabetes and your eyes

If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep it in check for numerous health reasons. When it comes to your eyes, high blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels at the back of your eyeballs. Once these blood vessels are damaged, they may leak fluid into your eyes and cause swelling. 

If new blood vessels grow, they may bleed into your eye, form scar tissue, or increase your eye pressure – a symptom of glaucoma. When damaged blood vessels affect your retina – the area at the back of your eye that focuses light so you can see – you can experience vision loss. This is typical for diabetics with retinopathy. 

Glaucoma, retinopathy, and cataracts can all lead to vision loss or even total blindness if you ignore the symptoms. One of the best things you can do to keep your eyes healthy is to keep your diabetes under control with lifestyle changes, diet, and medications, if necessary. You should also schedule regular eye exams so we can stay on top of your overall eye health and make changes to your vision prescriptions as needed. 

Why eye exams are so important for diabetics

A comprehensive eye exam is your best defense against diseases of the eye. Diabetes can cause eye complications, but in the early stages of cataracts, glaucoma, or retinopathy, you may not experience any symptoms. By the time you do, it might be too late to reverse the damage to your eyes. 

Regular eye exams ensure that we detect complications and take steps to treat problems as soon as possible. When we thoroughly examine your eyes, we can detect any changes in your eye health long before these changes impair your vision. 

For example, early diagnosis of glaucoma can help slow the progression of the disease and prevent permanent vision loss. Additionally, cataracts can often be corrected with laser surgery that removes a cloudy lens and replaces it with a synthetic lens so you can see much more clearly. 

Don’t wait to protect your eyes from the common diseases associated with diabetes. Contact

ReVision Optix by phone or request an appointment online today at the South Carolina office closest to you.

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