How Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision?

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood sugar level is higher than the normal state. In this condition, our body either produces less or no insulin due to which sugar can find no way to reach the body cells.

While in some cases diabetes can lead to minor vision problems which can be controlled by stabilizing blood sugar levels, in other cases it can be as fatal as it can lead to total blindness.

Diabetes affects our vision in two ways-

  • Hyperglycemia-

It is when you have a high blood sugar level. It leads to swelling of the eye lens which in turn causes blurry vision. It is a temporary condition and can be treated by lowering the blood sugar level.

  • Diabetic eye diseases-

Duration of diabetes also has a direct correlation with the development of diabetic eye disease. Longer duration of uncontrolled blood sugar levels lead to the development of the following conditions-

 

  1. Cataract: People with diabetes develop cataracts at an earlier age compared to other people and also it worsens more quickly compared to age-related cataracts.
  2.  Glaucoma:  Diabetes also increases the chance of developing glaucoma in which eye pressure rises and causes optic nerve damage leading to decrease or complete loss of vision. People with diabetes are also prone to develop a rare form of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma.
  3. Diabetic retinopathy: Constantly elevated blood sugar levels over some time damages the small blood vessels on the retina which weakens them and may make a fluid leak in the retina. In advanced stages of the disease, new blood vessels grow and proliferate on the surface of the retina which leaks fluid easily & also ruptures easily causing edema & haemorrhage on the retina which leads to significant vision loss.
  4. Diabetic macular Edema: Macula is the central functional part of the retina which is responsible for high-resolution colored images, when there are leaking blood vessels due to diabetic retinopathy, it gets accumulated in the macula causing blurred vision.   

Symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent change of glass prescription number.
  • Field loss
  • Black spots( floaters) / flashes of light
  • Sudden loss of vision ( Vitreous haemorrhage or RD)
  • Patient with diabetes are advised to get their eyes checked once every year (Vision, IOP, Dilated Retinal Examination)

Treatment:

  • Cataract-

 A cataract is generally treated by surgery & implantation of iol but the treatment of diabetic cataract is a bit different from normal cataract surgery. 

– Patients who have diabetic cataracts should consult a retinal specialist.

– Preoperative diabetic management may be done before treating cataracts.

-Postoperative follow-ups are crucial in patients having diabetes.

  • Glaucoma 

In most cases, it can be managed by eye drops. In patients with uncontrolled intraocular pressure, eye drops are managed with surgery to lower IOP.

It can be treated with either medication, laser, surgery, or injection depending upon the type of glaucoma.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy/ Macular Edema:
  1. Intravitreal anti- VEGF injections – These injections help in treating Glaucoma by stopping the growth of new blood vessels. Their results are quite promising.
  2. Retinal lasers (PRP) – This technique lowers the leakage of blood in the eye. It is also known as Photocoagulation.
  3. Retina surgery in c/o vitreous haemorrhage, retina  Detachment – In this procedure, a small incision is made in the center of the eye to remove the blood vessels and scar tissue from the eyes. 

General anesthesia is given during the surgery.

So this is how Diabetes and vision problems go hand in hand. Therefore, if you are diabetic, get your eyes checked every 6 months. Do consult a doctor for the proper guidance, medication, and preventive measures that are needed to be followed if you are suffering from Diabetes.

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