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A Look at the Diabetic Eye

Do you know the connection between diabetes and your eyes? The raised blood sugar levels that are the essence of the disease are a risk to your eyes in various ways.

There are a few ways that diabetes, especially when it is not controlled by medication, diet or exercise, can impact your eyes and vision.

One of the most serious risks of diabetes on your eyes is damage to the blood vessels that lead to the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy and is a leading cause of blindness in adults.

The retina is the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, which is essential for proper vision. Damage to the retina can result in permanent vision loss. While controlling diabetes reduces the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy, it does not totally eliminate the risk and consequently it is of utmost importance to have your eyes examined each year if you have diabetes.

Daily fluctuations in blood sugar levels, largely present when diabetes is not controlled, can have an impact on the functioning of the eye's crystalline lens. Since glucose levels are linked to your lens's ability to maintain sharp focus, this can result in blurred vision that varies with blood sugar levels.

Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded and can also develop in diabetics. While many people develop cataracts with age, the risk of having the condition earlier is higher in individuals with diabetes.

Glaucoma, which is caused by increased interoptic fluid pressure, can lead to vision loss. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.

The best prevention for conditions related to diabetes is control of glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to eat properly, exercise and refrain from smoking. Since eye damage is often not noticeable until damage has occurred it is imperative to have regular yearly eye exams with an eye doctor to diagnose any developing problems early on. Even though it is common that vision loss that results from any of these conditions cannot be reversed, early detection and treatment can often stop continuing damage.