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Ask the Vision Experts: Diabetic Eye Disease

I have diabetes. What do I need to know about protecting my eyesight?

Dr. David Tremblay

Diabetes is a complex disease to live with, affecting almost every part of the body. The key to managing the condition is controlling your blood sugar. But even if you have your diabetes well-controlled, you are still at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and other related eye problems. Unfortunately, people with diabetes sometimes don’t think about their eye health; although 90% of vision loss from diabetes is preventable, only 40% of people with diabetes have routine eye exams.

Elevated blood glucose levels wreak havoc on the body by damaging blood vessels. This can affect any organ, including the eyes. For example, small blood vessels in the retina can be damaged, leading to leakage of blood and swelling. As a result, parts of the retina become starved of oxygen. In more severe cases, these changes can lead to a detachment of the retina and permanent vision loss.

Diabetes also causes earlier and more severe cataract formation, which is when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. In addition, it is linked to glaucoma (damage to the optic nerve) and strokes in the eye. Finally, it can cause and exacerbate dry eye by affecting the nerves in the cornea.

Luckily, you can reverse the early effects of diabetes on the eyes with early detection and intervention. For this reason, it is extremely important to have a yearly comprehensive eye exam, even if your blood sugars are well-controlled.

The experienced eye care providers at Mann Eye Institute can guide you through your risk assessment and help protect your sight. Come see us today to See Life Better.

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