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Diabetes’ effect on Eyesight

Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults are diabetic, and the condition is life-long. This occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is made cannot be used properly by the body.

Diabetic Retinopathy

It’s the most common diabetic eye disease and is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It happens when there are damaging changes in blood vessels of the retina in your eye. Some blood vessels swell and leak, and sometimes new blood vessels grow abnormally on the surface of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue on the back of the eye.

Diabetic retinopathy usually worsens over time, and it’s composed of a few different stages.

• Background retinopathy is the early stage in which the retina’s tiny blood vessels have small areas of swelling. The vessels become weak and sometimes leak small amounts of blood and other fluids into the retina. While it doesn’t affect your eyesight, it helps an optometrist to identify the leaks on the back of the eye.

• Pre-proliferative retinopathy is when the blood that flows to the retina begins to be restricted.

• Maculopathy occurs when the macula area has damage.

• Proliferative retinopathy: The damaged retinal blood vessels start producing growth factor chemicals. New blood vessels begin growing out of the existing, damaged vessels in hope to begin providing more blood to the retina. The newly-formed vessels are very delicate and prone to bleeding. This is highly likely to cause obscured and blurry vision.

Cataracts

While cataracts are not specific to diabetes, the condition is more likely to occur at an earlier age – if the person has diabetes. Studies have shown that diabetics have more than a 50% chance in developing cataracts.

Cataracts can most definitely disturb your vision, but the solution for them is simple. Surgery is very quick and there is very little discomfort. A small incision is made in the eye, and the faulty lens is broken up with Ultrasound. It is then vacuumed out of the eye and a brand new, folded lens is inserted through the incision. It unfolds, and the process is complete.

With constantly advancing technology, the process is becoming more quick and easier. It usually takes 15-20 minutes!

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is often associated with diabetes. A rare form, neovascular glaucoma, was proven to have a direct link with diabetes. Scientists debate on whether the more common glaucoma has any link with diabetes.

In the last stages of diabetic retinopathy, the deprived retina has little oxygen and nutrients. A release of a chemical is triggered by this, which tells new vessels within the eye to grow, in an attempt to provide the eye with more valuable nutrients.

New vessels are weak and prone to damage. They grow into the trabecular meshwork (The outer part of the color of your eye), which drains the fluid at the front of the eye. Pressure is increased inside the eyes, and the pressure damages the optic nerve. Thus, vision is worsened.

Glaucoma can be treated through eye drops, surgery or laser eye treatment. But we always say, early diagnosis is incredibly important as existing damage by this, cannot be reversed.