Eye Care EducationWhat are the warning signs of diabetes-related eye problems?

Living things have amazing ways of demonstrating how in tune the entire body is with itself.  We sometimes forget, or become so busy, that one thing may be a symptom of another. This is the case with your eyes and diabetes.  Floaters, blurred vision, loss of color, and loss of side vision are four examples of ways that diabetes can impact your vision. If you are experiencing some or all these symptoms and you have diabetes, whether you know it or not, you may have Diabetic Retinopathy or Diabetic Macular Edema.

Floating Spots

High blood sugar can cause the blood vessels in the back (or retina) of your eyes to leak, causing abnormal growth of the blood vessels. The retina sends visual signals to your brain. If the blood vessels leak blood cause blood to be in your path of vision, causing you to see floaters or dark spots.

Blurred Vision

The center central area of the retina is called the macula and it is responsible for the sharpness of vision. If blood is leaking, there is an increase of fluid near the retina and vision may become cloudy or blurred.

Color Changes

As your retina and macula become cloudy, your lens may also.  What you notice (or see) may be a different color, such as yellow or brown, instead of clear, and it may become increasingly difficult to identify colors, such as blue and purple. Darker colors, in general, may be difficult to see.

Loss of Side Vision

Glaucoma is caused when fluid builds up around the front chamber of your eye. Fluid build up can cause pressure to press against the blood vessels in the retina and can cause loss of peripheral (side) vison. In severe cases, tunnel vision may be experienced, and you will only see things that are directly ahead.

Diabetic Eye Diseases

These four symptoms are indicators of diabetic eye disease. Diabetic Retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina and can cause vision loss. It is also the precursor to Macular Edema. Macular Edema occurs when fluid builds up in the macula. Both forms of eye disease are treatable, so the sooner you seek treatment, the better chance you have of preventing further damage to your eyes which increases your visibility.

Cataracts is a common eye development for everyone. However, cataracts are more common for individuals who also have diabetes and will typically begin showing at an earlier age as compared to individuals without diabetes.  Again, this is treatable, so it is important to be under the watchful care of an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Prevention methods include eating healthy, exercising regularly, watching your blood sugar levels, taking medication as it is prescribed by your doctor, and scheduling regular eye exams. If treatment becomes necessary, it may be possible to have eye drops, called Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapy, administered in order to reduce retinal swelling and inhibit blood vessel growth in the retina. Corticosteroid can also minimize swelling. Surgery may also become an option to decrease the symptoms that are causing the loss of or altered vision to occur.

If you are experiencing complications with your vision, it may be that the difficulties are a symptom of diabetes, and you need to seek treatment immediately. Contact the Eye Center of Northern Colorado so that we may help you protect your vision.


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