Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans under age 74.
Diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to use and store sugar (glucose). The disease is characterized by too much sugar in the blood, which can cause damage throughout the body, including the eyes.
When people with diabetes experience long periods of high blood sugar, fluid can accumulate in the lens inside the eye that controls focusing. This changes the curvature of the lens, leading to blurred vision and often a change in glasses prescription. Once blood sugar levels are controlled, blurred vision often improves. Patients with diabetes who can better control their blood sugar levels have more stable vision, and will slow the onset and progression of cataract and diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people who have diabetes. It causes progressive damage to the retina, the light-sensitive lining at the back of the eye. Over time, diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when these tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids. This causes the retinal tissue to swell, resulting in cloudy or blurred vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night, dark spots in the vision or distorted central vision. Some people with mild diabetic retinopathy do not experience symptoms.
Often the early stages of diabetic retinopathy have no visual symptoms. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can limit the potential for significant vision loss. That is why the American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that everyone with diabetes have a comprehensive dilated eye examination once a year. Our doctors at Miamisburg Vision care also recommend Optomap retinal photos in addition to your dilated eye exam for the most comprehensive evaluation.