Living with Diabetes: Eye Care By: Dr. Justin Maxwell

Diabetic Eye Care
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 10 percent of people in the U.S. The unhealthy buildup of glucose caused by this condition can increase the risk for other serious health issues. Blurry vision might signal a more serious health problem in diabetic patients.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) defines diabetic eye disease as a group of problems that might arise as a result of complications of diabetes. Diabetic eye diseases include cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye, which results in an inability to focus on light and impaired vision. Glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, leading to excess pressure. Pressure damages nerves, blood vessels and causes a change in vision. A person with diabetes is 60 percent more likely to develop cataracts and 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma.

The most serious eye-related disorder caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, can lead to a permanent loss of sight. The different complications of diabetes are a consequence of damage to blood vessels. If they leak or have any blockage, they’ll cause changes in the retina and affect vision. Many people who have diabetic retinopathy may only experience a mild form of the condition that never progresses to vision loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this condition is the leading cause of blindness among American adults 20 to 74 years old. Those who suffer from retinopathy may not notice any symptoms of eye damage until it is too late.

These conditions can be prevented by taking steps to control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. HealthCare Partners also encourages patients with diabetes to see their eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive dilated eye exam.