November is Diabetes Eye Health Month. How diabetes affects your eye health depends on how you care for yourself. Diabetes can harm your body in a number of ways, including the kidneys, skin, peripheral nerves, heart, and yes, even the eyes. Why you ask? All over your body, blood vessels can be harmed by diabetes. Your eyes’ blood vessels are no different.

The blood vessels in your retina, or the very back layer of your eyeball, can be harmed by diabetes. Referred to as diabetic related retinopathy, the blood vessels in your eyes begin to “leak” and lose their blood vessel wall integrity. This is one way the blood vessels can become damaged, as a result, fluids may accumulate in the macula, the central region of your retina. Macular edema is the term used to describe the swelling of your macula caused by extra fluid.

How Do I Know if I Have Diabetic Retinopathy?

You most likely won’t notice any changes in your vision in the early stages. However, routine retinal screenings enable an eye care professional to identify early indicators of the illness. If the illness worsens, you might develop symptoms such as:

  • double vision or fuzzy, blurry vision
  • floaters
  • seeing colors poorly
  • Shadowy dark areas (scotomas)
  • straight lines that appear to be curved or bent
  • having trouble seeing in bright light or glare
  • perceiving an object as having a distinct size when viewed with one eye first, then different with the other

Your macula is responsible for your central vision—seeing things that are directly in front of you and seeing details. Therefore, individuals with more advanced diabetes-related macular edema frequently report having fuzzy or out-of-focus vision. Any activity requiring central vision, such as driving, reading, using a computer, knitting, or other activities, may be hampered by the swelling in the macula.

If you don’t get treatment, your vision will probably get worse. It is crucial to have routine eye exams to detect diabetic retinopathy and macular edema in the early stages, before vision issues arise or existing symptoms of vision deteriorate.

What You Can Do to Protect Your Vision

A healthy blood sugar level is usually maintained with a combination of prescription drugs, food, exercise, and, if necessary, insulin. A physician who specializes in managing diabetes, such as an endocrinologist, can assist you in identifying a strategy that suits your needs.

It’s crucial to take care of any additional illnesses that diabetes may cause. Collaborate with your medical team to prevent and treat ailments such as obesity, kidney disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, and more that are frequently linked to diabetes.

Retinopathy and macular edema are two diabetes-related eye disorders that are impacted by both historical and current blood sugar levels. Disease accumulates over time. Thus, it’s critical to make an effort to manage your blood sugar levels as soon as possible after diagnosis and to schedule routine visits with an ophthalmologist or retina specialist.

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Image by Bonnie Henderson from Pixabay