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Keep an eye out for diabetes-related vision problems

Member news | Wednesday, October 28, 2020

When you have diabetes, seeing an eye doctor at least once a year for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is important. Diabetes raises the risk for several eye diseases that can steal your sight. Most of them start with few, if any, symptoms. But an eye doctor can spot the diseases early, when they are often easier to treat.

Four to know

It’s important to understand eye diseases commonly associated with diabetes. Here are four:

  1. Glaucoma. This happens when fluid in the eye can’t drain properly. As the fluid builds, it can damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.
  2. Diabetic retinopathy. The retina is the inner lining at the back of each eye. High blood sugar can harm the blood vessels around the retina and cause them to form pouches that affect vision.
  3. Diabetic macular edema. Diabetes can cause swelling in the macula, which is part of the retina. This can lead to partial or complete vision loss.
  4. Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lenses in the eye. It diminishes vision. And if you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age.

Prevent eye disease

Anyone with diabetes can get one of these eye diseases. But your risk is higher if your blood glucose, cholesterol levels, or blood pressure are not under control. Smoking makes you more at risk. Managing these risks and seeing your eye doctor regularly can help protect your eyes.

Sources: American Diabetes Association; National Institutes of Health