If you are one of the approximately one million adults in Australia who are affected by diabetes, this is especially true, so it’s good to know how the condition can affect your eye health and, without regular eye check-ups, can lead to a number of complications.
Let’s take a look at these complications and the symptoms you should be looking out for.
Diabetes can lead to blurry vision for a number of reasons. This can be constant or come and go, and the effects may be profound or mild. In uncontrolled diabetes, high levels of blood sugar can damage blood vessels, and this, in turn, affects the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye.
Sometimes an episode of blurry vision can happen when fluid produced as a result of high blood sugar levels distorts the shape of the lens. The problem may go away when blood sugar levels go back to normal.
Sometimes if your blood sugar levels are too low (when you are in a state of “hypoglycaemia”), blurry vision is experienced temporarily.
While blurry vision may resolve itself, it’s always best to get your eyes checked out by a specialist if you are diabetic to prevent long-term damage.
If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk of a serious eye disease called glaucoma. This is when an accumulation of pressure in your eye causes damage to the optic nerve, which transmits images to your brain.
If left untreated, glaucoma will cause progressive loss of vision and may result in blindness. Fortunately, a treatment plan to lower the pressure in your eyes can keep this damage at bay. This may involve laser treatment, eye drops, oral medication, or surgery.
Glaucoma does not commonly produce early symptoms, although in the later stages, patients may notice loss of peripheral vision or pain. This is why it’s so important to have your eyes examined regularly by a specialist to catch any signs of the disease.
Cataracts are a common condition when you get older, particularly if you live with diabetes.
They occur when protein accumulates in the lens of your eye and makes your vision appear cloudy. Cataracts can also cause you to become sensitive to light and to find tasks like driving at night challenging.
The good news is that treatment for cataracts is usually straightforward and has a high success rate, with patients reporting dramatic improvement in their vision afterward. Cataracts can be removed by eye laser surgery, to be replaced by an artificial lens. The procedure only takes around 20 minutes, and most patients can go home just a couple of hours afterward.
Damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye can be caused by excess sugar blocking blood flow. This can lead to a serious condition called diabetic retinopathy. While it doesn’t usually have symptoms in its early stages, this disease can eventually cause blurry vision, floaters, and vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy can also lead to some serious complications such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.
Regular eye exams are essential so that serious conditions such as diabetic retinopathy can be picked up early on. Treatment available includes the application of lasers to reduce swelling in your retina and to stop the blood vessels leaking.
The two takeaways from this article are that, firstly, if you are diabetic, it’s imperative to have your eyes checked regularly to detect any changes early on. This means that any subsequent treatment is more likely to be successful.
Secondly, many eye conditions brought on by diabetes can be treated easily with medication or even with laser surgery, which has many uses and is quick and effective.
So, if you are diabetic and have concerns about your eye health, don’t hesitate to call the George Street Eye Centre, Sydney on (02) 9230 0010 or use our online form to contact us. We can arrange an appointment with an expert and discuss your concerns and a treatment plan to put your mind at ease.