Jul 22, 2021
Diabetes and your eyesight
Diabetes affects about 10.5% of adults in the United States and 21.4% of the population are undiagnosed.
The amount of people who are prediabetic is also staggering.
88 million people aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (34.5% of the adult US population)
When it comes to Americans who are 65 years or older, 24.2 million people aged 65 years or older have prediabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common ways that diabetes is manifested in your eyesight.
Retinopathy may not have any symptoms at first — early detection is crucial in taking steps to protect your vision.
Education is often the first step towards prevention.
Below is a 3 parts video series by our own Dr. Matthew Page in our Crossville office.
In these videos, Dr. Page breaks down exactly for Diabetes affects your eyes and the steps you can take towards prevention.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually don’t have any symptoms. Some people notice changes in their vision, like trouble reading or seeing faraway objects. These changes may come and go.
In later stages of the disease, blood vessels in the retina start to bleed into the vitreous (gel-like fluid in the center of the eye). If this happens, you may see dark, floating spots or streaks that look like cobwebs. Sometimes, the spots clear up on their own — but it’s important to get treatment right away. Without treatment, the bleeding can happen again, get worse, or cause scarring.
Am I at risk for diabetic retinopathy?
Anyone with any kind of diabetes can get diabetic retinopathy — including people with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes that can develop during pregnancy).
Your risk increases the longer you have diabetes. More than 2 in 5 Americans with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that you can lower your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by controlling your diabetes.
Women with diabetes who become pregnant — or women who develop gestational diabetes — are at high risk for getting diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes and are pregnant, have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. Ask your doctor if you’ll need additional eye exams during your pregnancy.
What causes diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Over time, having too much sugar in your blood can damage your retina — the part of your eye that detects light and sends signals to your brain through a nerve in the back of your eye.
Diabetes damages blood vessels all over the body. The damage to your eyes starts when sugar blocks the tiny blood vessels that go to your retina, causing them to leak fluid or bleed. To make up for these blocked blood vessels, your eyes then grow new blood vessels that don’t work well. These new blood vessels can leak or bleed easily.
How will my eye doctor check for diabetic retinopathy?
Your doctor at your local Eye Centers of Tennessee will check for diabetic retinopathy as part of a dilated eye exam. The exam is simple and painless and tells the story of the overall health of the human body.
If you have diabetes, it’s very important to get regular eye exams.
What can I do to prevent diabetic retinopathy?
MOVE! Implementing habits for a healthy lifestyle is the fastest way to prevent diabetic retinopathy.
You can do this by getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, and carefully following your doctor’s instructions for your insulin or other diabetes medicines.