HOW DOES DIABETES AFFECT EYE HEALTH?
Dr. Jim Martin 11/05/2015
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are almost 30 million people in the United States who have diabetes. That is over 9% of the population and the percentage continues to grow. Diabetes is a serious disease that can cause damage throughout the body if left untreated. The eyes are particularly vulnerable to damage caused by diabetes, which is why November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month.
Eye Diseases And Disorders Associated With Diabetes
Here are five of the more common diseases and disorders that can affect the eyes of diabetics:
Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds within the eye. While this condition can affect anyone, diabetics are two times more likely to develop glaucoma than non-diabetics. The pressure reduces the amount of blood flowing to the retina and optic nerve. This causes a gradual loss of vision.
Cataracts are another condition that affect everyone eventually. Diabetics, though, are 60% more likely to get them compared to non-diabetics. Cataracts are cloudy formations on the surface of the eye. These formations grow, clouding clear vision and blocking light.
Nonproliferative retinopathy occurs when tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye begin to swell, forming small pouches. This blocks easy blood flow. This condition can progress from mild to severe stages as damage spreads. The biggest issue with this condition is that there are no symptoms until it has become severe. By then, the damage is done.
Macular edema is a condition that can occur with nonproliferative retinopathy. As the tiny blood vessels swell, their walls can become porous. Fluid can build up behind the macula, a small patch on the retina that helps the eye focus. As the fluid levels increase, vision starts to blur. If left untreated, vision can be severely impaired.
Proliferative retinopathy is a more serious form of retinopathy that can develop over many years. The blood vessels in the eye start closing off. This triggers the body to build new blood vessels into the retina. These new, weaker vessels can leak blood, blocking light and blurring vision. The blood vessels can also cause scar tissue, which can distort the retina or pull the retina away from the eye completely.
Each of these diseases has the potential to do severe damage to the eye, causing vision loss and potential blindness. Diabetics should have regular eye check-ups to catch early signs of these diseases. If you, or a loved one, is dealing with diabetes, make your eye health a priority. November is the perfect month to schedule an eye exam. Broome Optical can help you with all aspects of your eye health. Give us a call today because life is worth seeing.