People who are diagnosed with diabetes are warned about a number of different conditions, and one of the most common is potential vision problems. What is the link between diabetes and diminished vision? If you have diabetes, are you guaranteed to eventually suffer from cataracts? Let’s investigate.
Sugar is the Culprit
It is common knowledge that a diabetic needs to control the volume of sugar (glucose) entering their body. What many people don’t realize is that there is also a correlation between glucose in the body and cataracts.
The eye’s lens obtains nutrients from the aqueous humor, a clear liquid that sits in front of the eye between the lens and the cornea. (The cornea is a transparent area which forms the front of the eye.) The purpose of the aqueous humor is to provide oxygen and glucose, which are excellent sources of energy for the body’s cells. Although the glucose offers important benefits to the body, it is essential that the body maintains control over the levels of glucose.
The problem for diabetics is when glucose is not under control, sugar levels in the aqueous humor can rise. One major side effect of an increased sugar level in the aqueous humor is that it can cause the lens to swell, which will then cause problems with a patient’s vision.
This is not the only issue. The lens also contains an enzyme that converts glucose to a substance called sorbitol. When sorbitol collects in the lens, it can affect the cells and the naturally occurring proteins, which then leads to the lens becoming less transparent and more opaque. This condition eventually leads to cataract formation, making the world around you appear blurry, yellowish or faded, and you may also suffer from increasing glare.
Does Having Diabetes Mean That I Am Guaranteed To Suffer From Cataracts?
Statistics show that if you have diabetes, you are about 60% more likely to develop cataracts. However, although these statistics are high, it is by no means guaranteed. As with all diabetes-related symptoms, the control of your sugar levels is critical and can help to lower your risk. The earlier that cataracts are discovered, the better the prognosis for treatment, which is why at Matossian Eye Associates, we always advise regular eye exams, particularly for those patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Here are a few tips that could help to reduce your risk of diabetes-related cataracts:
- Test your blood sugar level regularly
- Quit smoking – There has been a link shown between smoking and the development of cataracts
- Try to protect your eyes from the sun – Wear glasses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB light
- Try to ensure you eat a healthy diet
Diabetes is associated with a number of health complications, including cataracts. However, provided you are intentional with your preventative measures, regularly check your blood sugar levels and actively have your eyes tested, if a cataract does start to form, then we can quickly take the appropriate action to address the condition before it develops further and causes more severe issues.