Diabetes and Your Vision — What You Should Know

Most of your body’s energy comes from glucose, which is sugar found in the food you eat. Glucose is essential for healthy muscle, organ, and brain function. When you consume food, your body naturally processes elements of the food into glucose, while your pancreas uses a hormone called insulin to increase your cells’ ability to absorb it.

Diabetes is a common health condition that interferes with this process. Some people with diabetes can’t make enough insulin to absorb glucose, while others can’t properly utilize the insulin they do have.

When cells can’t absorb glucose, there’s not enough fuel for your body and your blood sugar levels increase. High blood sugar can create a variety of health complications throughout the body, including your eyes.

In fact, diabetes is the top cause of blindness in the United States. High blood sugar and other complications of diabetes increase your risk of nerve damage, cataracts, glaucoma, and more eye issues that impair vision.

Diabetes poses a significant risk to your eye health and your vision, but our team at Ethos Medical Group can help. We offer comprehensive eye care, and we’re here to help you understand how diabetes affects your vision so you can enjoy strong eyesight for years to come.

Diabetic retinopathy

Because diabetes makes it hard for your body to process and use glucose, extra glucose collects in your blood and elevates your blood sugar levels. If high blood sugar is left uncontrolled, it can damage nerves over time.

Also called neuropathy, nerve damage is most common in feet and hands, but it can also affect eyes. Diabetic retinopathy is the medical term for nerve damage in your eyes caused by diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy develops when the small blood vessels in your retinas get damaged. Your retinas detect light and send signals to your brain through your optic nerve, and diabetic retinopathy can make blood or fluid leak within your retinas.

Fluid in your retinas can distort vision. Diabetic retinopathy often begins with blurry vision, but it can progress to complete vision loss over time. As the condition gets worse, you may begin noticing specks floating across your line of sight or dark spots in your visual field.

A complication of diabetic retinopathy is diabetic macular edema (DME). DME occurs when fluid builds up in the macula, which is the part of your retina that detects vision straight ahead. It can make your central vision blurry or dark, affecting your ability to drive a car, recognize faces, read, and more.

Diabetes and blurry vision

Blurry vision is a common symptom of diabetic retinopathy, but just because you are noticing some blurry vision doesn’t automatically mean you have diabetic retinopathy. Some people who have diabetes experience other vision impairments, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

High blood sugar and diabetes can make the lens of your eye swell. Swelling can distort your vision, making objects appear blurry. If you’re affected by this type of blurry vision, getting your blood sugar within a healthy target range can clear up vision within a few months.

Cataracts develop when the eye’s lens gets cloudy. Anyone can develop a cataract, but diabetes can make a cataract even worse. Cataracts can be treated with an effective surgical procedure that replaces the clouded lens with a clear, artificial one.

Glaucoma is another common eye issue that people with diabetes may face. High blood sugar can increase the pressure inside your eyes, and glaucoma develops when pressure begins damaging your optic nerve. Like cataracts and other eye issues, glaucoma can be treated to reduce your risk of permanent vision loss.

If you have diabetes, getting regular eye care is important to protect the health of your eyes. Schedule your next eye exam with us by calling our Orange, California, office or selecting an appointment time online.

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