Diabetes is a very common health condition that is estimated to affect around 1 in 10 Americans. Research also suggests that as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults have pre-diabetes, meaning that they are at high risk of developing the condition. 9 out of 10 pre-diabetics don’t know that they have it.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that occurs when your body is no longer able to control your blood sugar level properly. Having high blood sugar for extended periods of time results in damage to the smaller blood vessels of the body. As a result, these vessels do not properly transport nutrients and oxygen to the organs of the body. Living with elevated blood sugar can increase your risk of a range of health complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and even blindness.
Eye exams are an amazing tool that allows us to look at the internal tissues of the body without surgery. Through the front of the eye, a doctor can evaluate the health of the blood vessels and better evaluate whether blood sugar is properly controlled.
One of the most common misconceptions about blurred vision is that it’s only caused by needing to wear glasses. While myopia (nearsightedness) and hyperopia (farsightedness) are very common causes of blurred vision, it can also occur for many other reasons, including as a complication of having diabetes.
When you have persistently high blood sugar levels, it can cause the lens of your eye to swell, distorting light as it passes through your eye and resulting in blurred vision. This can even cause shifts in glasses or contact lens prescription.
Cataracts are a group of conditions categorized by clouding of the lens of the eye. Cataracts typically form over longer periods of time due to age. However, uncontrolled systemic conditions, like diabetes, can cause lens changes much earlier in life. Not only are people with diabetes more likely to get cataracts, but these cataracts tend to progress much more quickly.These changes cause cloudy patches that are harder for light to pass through, making your vision blurred. The only effective treatment is cataract surgery to replace the natural lens of the eye.
People who suffer from diabetes are also more likely to experience glaucoma – a disease of the eye nerve fibers that can cause vision loss. Unfortunately, since the condition affects nerve tissue, any vision that is lost as a result of glaucoma is permanent. Glaucoma usually develops very slowly and can only be detected through an eye exam. There are treatments that can stop glaucoma from getting any worse. If you have diabetes, it is crucial to be have yours evaluated for this condition
The most common complication of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy occurs when persistently high blood sugar levels cause damage to the small blood vessels in your retina. This damage makes them grow abnormally, leak fluid and blood, which can result in scarring and blurred vision. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, your eye doctor should invite you for regular diabetic retinopathy screening appointments where they will assess the blood vessels at the back of your eye for any signs of this complication. Again, vision that is lost as a result of diabetic retinopathy may be permanent.
Natural State Eyecare offers the latest in examination and imaging technology to help better care for our patients diabetic journey.
-Optos autofluorescence imaging allows the doctor to assess the smaller blood vessels of the eye and compare year-to-year results.
-Zeiss OCT macular scans detect diabetic macular edema before potential vision loss occurs.
-VirtualField Visual Field analyzer allows tracking of peripheral vision changes and early detection of conditions such diabetic induced glaucoma.
If you would like more information about how diabetes affects your eyes, visit Natural State Eyecare at our office in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can also call (501) 295-4011 to book an appointment today.