Being diabetic automatically places a patient in a much higher risk category for many health complications. These include heart disease, nerve damage, skin infections, and eye disease. In particular, there are three types of eye disease which are more likely to impact those with diabetes than the average patient, and it is of critical importance that each of these be understood and eye health actively monitored. If you or a loved one live with diabetes, here are the eye conditions of which you should be most aware:
Diabetes and Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye condition in which fluid is unable to normally drain from the eye. Over time, this buildup of fluid leads to increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and damage to the optic nerve. Unfortunately, diabetic patients are especially susceptible to the condition which can cause gradual vision loss and often comes with no warning signs.
Diabetes and Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of vision loss among diabetics. Elevated levels of blood sugar over an extended period of time can lead to damage and blockage of blood vessels, particularly the tiny ones that feed into the retina. The body will attempt to compensate by developing new blood vessels which are susceptible to microscopic hemorrhages. In this case, dark splotches from the bleeding may be visible in the field of vision, and if allowed to advance far enough, blurred central vision, retinal detachment, and even blindness may occur.
Diabetes and Cataracts
Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens due to protein buildup and are a condition commonly associated with age. In fact, the majority of Americans over the age of 60 will deal with cataracts to some degree. However, those who are also diagnosed with diabetes are up to five times more likely to develop the condition than their peers. Fortunately, treatment has come a very long way, and cataract surgery options ranging from traditional to laser to dropless are giving patients better outcomes and stronger vision than those in years past.
For patients with diabetes, there is no shortage of associated health concerns. It’s an unfortunate reality of the disease. However, careful monitoring of the condition and a healthy lifestyle and diet can keep many of these problems at bay. In the case of diabetes-related eye conditions, a skilled ophthalmologist is a critical member of your medical team.
If you are in the Baton Rouge area and are living with diabetes, contact Eye Specialists of Louisiana, and request an appointment with one of our physicians to evaluate the current state of your eye health and for recommendations to keep your vision strong well into the future.