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Eye on Diabetes: “Eye-dentifying” Common Vision Problems in Diabetics

Sep 23, 2009

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74—a scary fact for those living with the disease. High blood sugar in the body increases the risk of vision problems, causing the lens of the eye to swell and changing the ability to see.

“For most patients, getting their blood sugar back in target range may help make the problem less severe,” said Seenu Hariprasad, M.D., chief vitreoretinal service at Weiss Memorial Hospital and associate professor of ophthalmology and visual science at the University of Chicago. “But blurred vision can also be a sign of more serious eye concerns such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy.”

So the next time your vision goes blurry, don’t think picking up a pair of glasses at the local drug store will solve the problem. See your doctor, and beforehand, review some healthful hints from the experts at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

Cataracts and Diabetes: A cataract clouds the normally clear lens of the eye. While commonly found in older patients, people with diabetes can see these complications at a younger age, and the condition will progress more rapidly. Symptoms include blurred or glared vision; and treatment includes surgery, which involves a lens implant, and glasses as needed.

Glaucoma and Diabetes: Glaucoma is the buildup of fluid in the eye. The added pressure causes nerve damage leading to a change in vision. Many times it’s significant because typically there are no signs of the disease until it reaches its advanced stages. Remedies include special eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. Diabetics should get an annual glaucoma screening from their eye doctor.

Retinopathy and Diabetes: Diabetic retinopathy is a blood vessel-related complication and forms when the small vessels in the retina are damaged. It’s the leading cause of irreversible blindness in industrialized nations. This micro-vascular disease is directly related to high blood sugar levels during a period of time. Symptoms usually include spotty vision and treatment of this disease sometimes involves a retina laser procedure or vitrectomy surgery.