Today is World Diabetes Day and unless you have the condition you may not realise the correlation between diabetes and vision. Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes including diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema.
An optometrist may actually be able to spot the signs that you have diabetes before you realise you have the condition. Blood vessels in the eyes may leak which would be spotted in a routine eye examination. One of the many health conditions that can be uncovered in a trip to your optometrist (or optician).
Blurred vision is one of the first signs of diabetes. Vision may become blurred for a few days or weeks while your diabetes is first being controlled. High blood sugar causes the lens to swell but it will clear soon after the diabetes is controlled.
Cataract and glaucoma are also conditions that can occur more commonly in diabetics. In cataract, the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy and whilst anyone can get the condition, people with diabetes are more prone, often getting them earlier and more severely than others.
Glaucoma is caused by fluid building in the eye and pressing on the nerve. Like cataract it can affect anyone, however people with diabetes and particularly those with diabetic eye disease have an increased risk of glaucoma due to abnormal blood vessel growth which can block the natural drainage channels of the eye. If you have diabetes you should be tested for glaucoma every year as there are very few noticeable symptoms.
The message is the same as many of our other blogs – please ensure you always have your eyes examined every two years (yearly if you already have diabetes) and immediately if you notice any changes to your vision. A loss in vision, blurred vision, floaters and shadows are the most common signs but really any change in vision or how your eyes feel should be investigated. When it comes to the eyes, quick identification of issues makes a huge difference. There are so many very effective treatments out there that can slow the progression of eye disease, some treatments can actually reverse the damage if caught soon enough.
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