November is Diabetic Eye Disease awareness month. Diabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels are abnormally high. You get glucose from the foods you eat. Your body’s cells require glucose for energy. Insulin, a hormone, aids in the transport of glucose into your cells. Your body does not produce insulin if you have type 1 diabetes. Your body does not produce or use insulin properly if you have type 2 diabetes. Glucose builds up in your blood without enough insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
Eye Problems with Diabetes
High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and lenses in your eyes over time. This can result in serious diabetic eye problems that can impair your vision and even cause blindness. The following are some examples of common diabetes eye problems:
- Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults in the United States. It has an effect on the blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye). Blood vessels in your eye may swell and leak fluid.
If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as vision loss and retinal detachment, a condition in which the retina is pulled away from its normal position at the back of your eye.
- Diabetes-related macular edema (DME) occurs when blood vessels in the retina leak fluid into the macula (a part of the retina needed for sharp, central vision).
This usually occurs in people who have other symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
- Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve (the bundle of nerves that connects the eye to the brain). Glaucoma from diabetes happens when the blood vessels in the front of your eye are damaged, and new blood vessels grow near the iris (the colored part of your eye). The blood vessels block the space where fluid drains from your eye. This causes fluid to build up and pressure to increase inside your eye. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause optic nerve damage (the bundle of nerves that connects the eye to the brain). Diabetes-related glaucoma occurs when the blood vessels in the front of your eye are damaged and new blood vessels grow near the iris (the colored part of your eye). The blood vessels obstruct the space through which fluid drains from your eye. This causes fluid to accumulate and pressure to rise within your eye.
- Cataracts form when the clear lens in front of your eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts become more common as people age. However, diabetics are more likely than non-diabetics to develop cataracts at a younger and faster age. High glucose levels, according to researchers, cause deposits to form in the lenses of your eyes.
Who is more likely to develop diabetic eye problems?
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Stay tuned next week for the answers to that question!
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