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Diabetes Awareness Month: Diabetic Eye Disease

Although most people have heard of diabetes, fewer understand the vision-related complications. The raised blood sugar levels that are the essence of the disease are a risk to your eyes in a number of ways.

Diabetes can hurt your eyes in a number of ways. The damage is often worse when the disease is uncontrolled.

One of the primary ways that diabetes can affect your eye is by damaging the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is a primary cause of vision loss in adults and is called diabetic retinopathy.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is an essential component for proper vision. Retinal damage can result in irreversible vision loss. While controlling diabetes can reduce the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not completely eliminate the risk and consequently it is of utmost importance to have an annual retinal exam.

Glucose levels that fluctuate regularly can also impact vision. Due to the fact that glucose levels are associated with the ability of your lens to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurry vision that changes with glucose levels.

Diabetics are more likely to develop cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes clouded, which causes vision problems. Cataracts are a common condition that comes with aging, but develops at an earlier age in diabetics.

Glaucoma, which is caused by elevated pressure in the optic nerve, can cause blindness. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.

Having your diabetes in control is the best form of prevention for any of the diabetic eye diseases. In addition to controlling glucose levels by means of diet and/or insulin, exercise and refraining from smoking can help. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is critical to have yearly retinal exams with our Memphis optometrist in order to detect any damage as early as possible. While in many cases any loss of sight that results from any of these conditions cannot be restored, further loss of sight can be prevented by early detection.