Around 100 million people have some form of diabetes and pre-diabetes. The condition is becoming a problem in the U.S., and everyone should be aware that it isn’t going away soon.
If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, you could experience serious health risks. One of those health risks involves the eyes, and often not found without a diabetic eye exam. Keep reading to find out more about your eyes and diabetes.
General Health Risks Involving Diabetes
Diabetes comes in different stages, including pre-diabetes, type 1, and type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the more common side-effects that you can experience:
1. Kidney Complications
When small blood vessels in the kidney’s become damaged by diabetes, it can cause them damage. As a result, the kidney’s can shut down or have difficulty working right.
2. Neuropathy and Nerve Damage
One of the main things to look out for with diabetes is the blood glucose level. When these get too high, the nerve endings in your body experience damage. Usually, the toes and tips of the fingers will start to tingle and be painful.
3. Eye Disease
Another major side-effect of high blood levels is damage to blood vessels in the eyes. Eye disease, or retinopathy, takes place after prolonged symptoms of high blood sugar.
When it gets too high, the sensitive vessels become damaged, leaking blood into the retina. This can result in a loss of vision, cloudy vision, or reduced eyesight.
It’s always best to prevent these things from happening by getting eye screenings. But what signs should you look for before making your appointment?
The Stages of Diabetes
The stages of diabetes are critical when getting a diagnosis. Each one has it’s own complications and side-effects.
What separates prediabetes from type 2 diabetes? It’s the fact that, while your levels are too high, they’re not high enough to be type 2 yet. That means, if you catch it early enough, you may be able to turn it around.
What is the blood sugar count for prediabetes? A fasting blood glucose level of 100-125 puts you on the scale.
2. Type 2 Diabetes
There are several contributing factors for type 2 diabetes. The most common factors are excess weight, genes, or other complications of the body. Insulin resistance is the main culprit and manifests in different ways.
3. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is different in that it’s chronic, and often develops in childhood. Type 1 diabetes means the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, and it has no cure.
The signs of type 1 diabetes are:
- Excessive thirst
- Bed wetting
- Weight loss despite hunger
- Urinating frequently
As with the other stages of diabetes, blurred vision is also a symptom for which to watch.
Signs You Need a Diabetic Eye Exam
Diabetes of any kind is difficult to endure. But losing your vision as a result of the disease is worse. Keep reading for signs it’s time to get your eyes examined for retinopathy.
1. Are You Seeing Spots?
Have you ever looked around and found that there are shadows over your eyes? You blink a few times, but they’re still there, blocking parts of your vision.
These shadows are diabetes spots. Often, these can also seem like empty areas in your vision. They’re another reason to get to an eye doctor fast.
2. Is Your Vision Getting Blurry?
Blurry vision is the result of many different things. Tiredness, allergies, and more can make you need to rub your eyes to clear them. But blurry vision can also be a sign of eye damage caused by diabetes.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels have a major effect on the eyes. What happens when your levels rise and fall at fast rates? Sugar seeps into the eyes and makes them swell, distorting the lens and making your vision blurry.
When this happens for too long, it can cause permanent damage to the lens. In some cases, this damage turns into cataracts. Cataracts, which are clouds over the lens are only fixable through surgery.
3. Have You Lost All Vision?
If you’ve completely lost vision in one or both of your eyes, it’s another sign of diabetic eye disease.
Complete vision loss can take several years to occur. Though, that doesn’t give you a pass to wait until it gets worse. The sooner you speak to a doctor the better.
Getting a regular eye exam will also be your best bet. Each year, they take a scan of your eyes and can track their health during each visit.
Treatment for Vision Loss
The best way to treat an eye disease caused by diabetes is to prevent blood sugar from getting too high. This means controlling blood sugar levels with medication and diet. But, if things have already progressed, there are a few options for treatment.
There are some laser treatments doctors can use. Focal laser treatment can reduce leaking into the retina. And scatter laser treatment can reduce the swelling of blood vessels.
Steroid injections are beneficial in the reduction of swelling from cataracts or glaucoma.
How to Prevent Diabetic Eye Disease
Not all aspects of diabetes are easy to prevent or manage without a doctors help. But there are some things you can do on your own to keep your symptoms from getting worse.
1. Stop Smoking
Smoking is bad for your health, anyway. But when you already have a major health problem, it can complicate things more. By giving up smoking, you can give the blood vessels more circulation.
2. Eat Healthier
A diet high in carbs and sugars can contribute to high blood sugar levels in some patients with diabetes. To help keep your levels down, try to have a healthier diet and get more exercise.
3. Get Regular Eye Exams
When you have a disease, you can’t handle it on your own. There are always things you will miss.
So, by getting more eye exams, you give doctors a chance to keep tabs on the progression of your health.
Schedule Your Appointment
Now that you know the reasons for getting a diabetic eye exam, you know the importance of not waiting. Your vision depends on early detection and action on your part.
Don’t have an eye doctor? Contact LaSante Health Center and make your appointment with an optometrist today!