November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. To mark this important awareness event, we’re delving into the effects diabetes can have on your eyesight – and how you can protect your vision from harm.
It goes without saying that individuals with diabetes must give the highest priority to getting blood sugar stabilized. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a whole host of complications and body damage that there’s simply not space to explore here. So, we’ll stick to what we know best: vision care.
Below are four of the most common eye complications from diabetes, plus the single biggest thing you can do to avoid them:
- Diabetic retinopathy. This is a common condition for diabetic patients and occurs when diabetes damages blood vessels in the eye. This damage causes symptoms such as blurry vision, “floaters” and black spots in the field of vision, retinal swelling (called macular edema), poor color perception and even blindness.
- Glaucoma. Pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve leading to glaucoma. Onset can be sudden and will present itself with blurriness, eye pain and redness, nighttime halos, headaches and more.
- Cataracts. Diabetes increases the risk of developing cataracts, which gradually cloud the lens of the eye. The symptoms are similar to glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy but may also include double vision, light sensitivity and night blindness.
- Infections of the eye. Diabetes inhibits the ability to fight infections, including infections of the eye. This can show up as a bacterial infection of the eye or as a painful sty.
Naturally, the first step in thwarting diabetic eye diseases is to treat the diabetes. Your ophthalmologist will want you to have stable blood sugar for a certain amount of time before prescribing lenses, contacts or vision correction. That’s because fluctuating blood sugars will cause fluctuating eye pressure that can change vision.
Before, during and after stabilizing your diabetes, protect your eyes by staying ahead of potential problems. That means seeing your ophthalmologist at least once a year for a retinal examination. Even if your diabetes is well-controlled and you are not experiencing any symptoms, the disease could still be damaging your eyes.
A skilled doctor with experience in diabetic diseases of the eye can spot signs of swelling and pressure early on and provide guidance to help you treat and minimize damage. Your doctor will have at his or her disposal some of the most advanced diagnostic technology, which is designed to precisely view and map out every nerve and vessel of the eye to identify microscopic damage before it gets out of control.
The team at Matossian Eye Associates is dedicated to helping patients preserve and improve their vision. Schedule your annual eye exam with an eye doctor at your convenience through our online appointment scheduler at MatossianEye.com.