High blood sugar, often a side effect of diabetes, affects the eyes by causing damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina. The retina is responsible for detecting light and conveying that information along the optic nerve to the brain for interpretation. When the retina is damaged due to diabetes, this is known as diabetic retinopathy. This disease can cause the blood vessels in the retina to hemorrhage, affecting the ability to see properly.
Further, other eye diseases, such as cataracts and glaucoma, appear at a higher rate in those with diabetes versus those without diabetes. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely to develop cataracts and nearly twice more likely to be suffer from glaucoma.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are usually nonexistent. The disease will grow until suddenly symptoms appear, damaging and affecting your vision. Some of these symptoms may include:
Diabetic retinopathy may lead to the appearance of bursted blood vessels within the white of the eye. Those with diabetic retinopathy are also at risk of developing diabetic macular edema — the leading cause of vision loss among those with diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic macular edema is a condition that can occur during anytime while having diabetic retinopathy. It’s the buildup of fluid around the macula, a part of the retina. The macula fuctions to help you look straight ahead. This means complications with the macula will affect basic tasks such as reading, recognizing people’s faces, driving, and more.
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is often held off until it has reached its final stage of proliferative diabetic retinopathy or diabetic macular edema has occurred. A long list of procedures exist to treat these conditions, these include:
Unfortunately, losing your vision to a diabetes-related disease can possibly be permanent. This means that early detection is the best means of treatment and prevention of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. If you have diabetes you should be examined at least once a year at Eye Care One. Your vision may depend on it.
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