Over 9% of Americans suffer from diabetes, and approximately 1 out of 3 diabetic adults are affected by diabetic retinopathy. There are quite a few ocular complications caused by diabetes, but diabetic retinopathy is considered to be the most severe.
Here are some diabetes related ocular complications to look out for:
- Diabetic Macular Edema – Diabetes has been known to potentially cause edema, or “swelling,” of the macula. The macula is responsible for the central part of your vision, without which we be unable to make out a lot of detail. If left undiagnosed and/or untreated, diabetic macular edema could cause scarring to your macula and permanent vision loss.
- Sudden Changes in Vision – Blood glucose level fluctuations can often cause the lens inside of your eye to change, which can make your vision change exponentially. This might make you believe you need to update your eye prescription, but in all actuality it is the diabetes preventing your eyes from working properly. Having a sudden dramatic change in your vision is never good, but it can serve as the first detectable sign that you might have diabetes.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – As mentioned above, this condition is considered to be the most severe of all the diabetes related ocular complications. It affects the small blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to potential blindness or, at the very least, major vision complications if left untreated. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy unfortunately increases the longer someone has diabetes. This risk is only worsened if the person with diabetes exercises poor blood glucose level control.
- Glaucoma and Cataracts – Diabetes raises the risk of developing glaucoma by approximately 40% and cataracts by about 60%. It is possible that diabetes might accelerate the progression of each of these conditions as well making them even more damaging for your eyes.
It is important to schedule regular eye health examinations even if eye symptoms aren't manifesting themselves, especially if you knowingly have diabetes because of the increased risk of eye disease. It is best to catch ocular complications caused by diabetes early to halt damages to your vision as much as possible, but diabetes related ocular complications don't always produce symptoms that are visible to you right away, making the need to be have routine eye exams with your eye doctor all the more important.