Diabetes is a systemic condition that impacts your overall health by changing and damaging your blood vessels. Before symptoms of diabetes appear or manifest anywhere else in the body, they appear in delicate eye structures.
It causes changes in the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina and the iris, leading to severe eye diseases. Eye doctors have diagnosed many people with diabetes before any general physician noticed something was wrong.
Diabetes develops when you cannot produce or respond to insulin in the body, leaving large amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. This glucose negatively impacts your nerves and blood vessels all over your body and, firstly, in the eyes. It can lead to the development of several eye conditions, which include:
Cataracts are a condition that results in the clouding of the natural eye lens due to the collection of debris in the lens. The debris comes from the fluid breakdown in the lens, forming clumps that collect on the sides of the eye’s lens. They are often natural, especially in older people, but they are likely to develop faster in people with diabetes.
These are a series of conditions that impact the health of the optic nerve through increased intraocular pressure. Diabetes causes a form of this condition called neurovascular glaucoma. It occurs when the iris develops abnormal blood vessels due to high blood sugar levels. The blood vessels block the intraocular fluid's drainage and increase eye pressure.
This condition occurs when high blood sugar levels cause the retina's vessels to leak. It may also lead to the formation of abnormal blood vessels. These usually damage the retina, the photosensitive layer at the back of the eye responsible for converting light into electric signals.
Sometimes, the abnormal blood vessels only affect the retina's center, the macula, responsible for central vision. The macula can start swelling due to the development of abnormal blood vessels and deteriorate, causing loss of central vision.
The best prevention mode is managing cholesterol, high blood pressure, and blood sugar levels resulting from the condition.
Mitigating damage to the eyes and the rest of the body starts with a healthy approach to managing cholesterol and high blood pressure. These can worsen your eye conditions and overall health, and your eye doctor or general physician can help you find ways to manage them.
The leading cause of the eye conditions mentioned earlier is the fluctuation of blood sugar levels due to poor management. You can use exercise and diet to help keep the levels low continuously, and your doctor can also recommend other strategies.
Smoking affects the health of your blood vessels, and it can be more harmful to your health if you have diabetes. This is not only limited to the blood vessels in the body but also in the eye, which would lead to the development of eye diseases faster.
Regular eye exams are crucial in preventing diabetic eye conditions due to their ability to detect early signs of damage caused by diabetes. These exams provide an opportunity for eye care professionals to closely monitor the health of the eyes, specifically looking for conditions like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. By identifying these issues in their early stages, appropriate treatments can be initiated promptly, preventing further deterioration of vision and reducing the risk of long-term complications.
For more on whether people with diabetes are at a greater risk of eye disease, visit Everything Eyes at our office in Delray Beach, Florida. Call (561) 499-2055 to book an appointment today.