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Optometrist: How Diabetes Affects the Eyes
If you think you have eye problems because of diabetes, visit your optometrist. Diabetes can cause major eye and vision problems. Diabetes is one of the primary causes of vision loss for many people. Optometrists perform most of the comprehensive eye examinations for individuals with diabetes. Optometrists are well-versed in the management and treatment of diabetic eye disease.
How diabetes affects the eyes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is too high. Diabetes impairs the ability of the body to use and store sugar. High sugar levels in the blood cause damage to the eyes. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye conditions that affect individuals with diabetes. These include diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma.
This is a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It causes damage to the small blood vessels of the light-sensitive back wall of the eye called the retina. The retina takes in light and turns it into signals through the optic nerve of the brain. Once these vessels are damaged, they leak blood and other fluids and this causes diabetic retinopathy.
Fluid can also leak into the macula. The macula is the area of the retina responsible for clear central vision. The macula is small, but it is the part that allows people to see colors and fine detail. It also provides good vision for driving, reading and other similar activities. The fluid makes this part to swell and causes blurred vision. Both eyes are usually affected by diabetic retinopathy. If not treated, this condition can even cause blindness.
Diabetes increases the risk of glaucoma. The glaucoma is a group of disorders that can lead to blindness and vision loss by damaging the optic nerve. Some forms of glaucoma are associated with pressure buildup inside the eye when fluid does not drain the way it should. This damages nerves and blood vessels and may cause changes in vision. People with diabetes are also more likely to have a rare condition known as neovascular glaucoma. This disease makes new blood vessels to grow on the colored part of the eye known as the iris. These vessels block normal fluid flow and raise eye pressure.
Cataract usually develops in people with diabetes. Cataract formation causes the clouding of the eye lens. The eye’s natural internal lens allows the eye to see and focus on an image the same way as a camera. When the lens becomes cloudy, that means a cataract has formed. This makes it hard for the eye to focus the way it should.
Visit your optometrist for eye exams
Diabetes can lead to several problems that affect the eye such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataract. These conditions can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Early detection and timely treatment of diabetic eye disease can offer protection against vision loss. If you have not had an eye examination in a long time, schedule an appointment with your optometrist today.
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