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How Diabetes Affects the Eyes

Posted on October 15, 2020 in Vision Health

Learn how diabetes affects the eyes and what you can do to lower your risk.

Maintaining healthy vision is important for many reasons. Clear vision allows us to go about our day-to-day life safely. Our eyesight is also an important indicator of our overall health. This means that when we’re experiencing vision problems, other health issues could also be at play. Blurred vision, for example, is often an initial sign of diabetes. Learn how diabetes affects the eyes and things you can do to lower your risk. 

What is diabetes? How can it affect the eyes?

Diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar levels rise above what is normal. This can lead to health problems, such as blurred vision. If diabetes goes unchecked, it can cause further damage to the eyes and the rest of the body. 

The four most common types of eye diseases caused by diabetes are: 

  1. Diabetic retinopathy: Individuals with type 1 or 2 diabetes can experience damage to the retina’s blood vessels. Untreated diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in the U.S.
  2. Diabetic macular edema: This condition impacts a different part of the eye called the macula, which helps sharpen our vision. Wavy vision and color changes are a sign of macular edema.
  3. Cataracts: Diabetics with blurry vision may also develop cataracts. Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye, and can cause you to experience sensitivity to light, or see faded colors, glares, or halos.
  4. Glaucoma: This condition develops from high pressure in the eye, which damages your optic nerve. You may experience tunnel vision, a halo effect, reddening of the eyes, eye pain, nausea, or vomiting with glaucoma. 

Research has shown that blurred vision is often one of the first warning signs of diabetes and shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re experiencing blurry vision, click here.

By managing your diabetes, you can prevent side effects like this. Protect your vision and overall health from complications by maintaining good nutrition and a healthy fitness regimen. Monitoring your blood sugar is an important part of managing diabetes. By learning what causes changes in our blood sugar, we can better maintain our health. 

A spike or increase in blood sugar levels can be caused by:

  • A meal or snack that is larger or has more carbohydrates than usual
  • Periods of inactivity
  • Certain medication side effects
  • Infections or other illnesses
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Increases in stress 

drop in blood sugar is also a concern as it can lead to dizziness, blurred vision, and even unconsciousness. Your blood sugar can drop from:

  • A meal or snack that is smaller or has fewer carbohydrates than usual
  • Extra activity
  • Certain medication side effects
  • Missing a meal or snack
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages (especially on an empty stomach)

If you or someone you love is experiencing changes in vision, it’s important to rule out any contributing conditions like diabetes. Click here to find a vision provider near you.