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Diabetes and Your Eyes

Although the majority of the population has heard of diabetes, fewer are aware of the eye-related complications. The increased levels of glucose that are the essence of the disease can harm your eyes in a couple of ways.

The threat of damage to your eyes is increased when diabetes is not controlled. Diabetic eye disease can come in a number of forms.

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the primary causes of blindness in adults. This condition is caused by blocked blood vessels in the retina due to the increased glucose levels. This leads to blood vessel leakages which results in irreparable retinal damage. Frequently new blood vessels grow on the retina and also leak resulting in additional damage.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is an essential component for proper vision. Damage to the retina can cause permanent blindness. While controlling diabetes can reduce the likelihood of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not eliminate the risk and this is why it is crucial to have a yearly retinal exam.

Periodic variations in glucose levels, which are common in situations where diabetes is uncontrolled, can affect the eye's crystalline lens. Since blood sugar levels are linked to your lens's ability to focus, this can result in blurred vision that changes with glucose levels.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and can also develop in diabetics. While cataracts are common in people over a certain age, the likelihood of developing the condition earlier is higher in diabetics.

Glaucoma, which is a result of increased pressure in the optic nerve, can cause vision loss. People with diabetes are two times more likely to develop glaucoma.

The optimal prevention for conditions related to diabetes is control of glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to eat properly, exercise and refrain from smoking. Additionally, it is critical to have yearly checkups with an optometrist to find any developing problems early on. While often vision loss caused by any of these conditions is irreparable, further damage can be prevented by early detection.