The Connections between Diabetes and Eye Health

By , January 28th, 2019

Checking her glucose level reading

Stay on top of your blood sugar levels to prevent eyesight problems down the road.

Diabetes patients likely know that maintaining their blood sugar is key to long-term health outcomes, but they may not know that eyes can be affected as well as other parts of the body. With more than 100 million Americans having diabetes or prediabetes, understanding the relationship between this condition and eye health is a must.

Diabetes does create unique risks for eyesight and eye health. While good habits can help you stay on top of your condition and protect your vision, prolonged issues with diabetes can affect your eyesight in the long term.

How Diabetes Harms the Eyes

In short, diabetes makes it difficult for the body to produce insulin properly, something that complicates your natural ability to regulate blood sugar levels. While blood sugar is an important part of your overall health, dramatic swings in its levels can negatively impact your wellbeing.

For example, if you have high blood sugar for too long, it can harm blood vessels within the eye — in addition to hurting your kidneys and heart. Without proper attention, high blood sugar can lead to a number of conditions collectively known as diabetic eye disease. Including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma, diabetic eye disease can be difficult to spot, underscoring the importance of proper health habits and regular check-ups.

Diabetic Retinopathy

While diabetic retinopathy is one of many possible conditions under diabetic eye disease, it can be particularly severe. The condition develops when high blood sugar begins to damage the blood vessels in your retina. This causes them to leak fluid into the eyes, bulge, or weaken entirely.

If diabetic retinopathy progresses without attention, new blood vessels may begin to grow on the surface of the retina. Because these blood vessels don’t form properly, they can cause serious impact your vision.

Protecting Your Eyes

For diabetic patients who are worried about eye health, establishing good habits can help. First, diabetics should closely monitor their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, three things that have an outsized impact on eye health as well as overall well-being.

Next, you should ensure that you have a dilated eye exam on a yearly basis. Since diabetic eye disease can be difficult to identify until it has caused some kind of damage, it’s imperative that eye care specialists have the chance to check your eyes regularly. With full dilation, they stand a better chance of understanding if something’s wrong.

Finally, if you’re worried about your eye health overall, make sure you talk to a doctor about your concerns. By scheduling a consultation with Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers of Texas, you can speak with a trained eye care specialist and develop a plan that keeps your eyes healthy in the long term.

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