Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood glucose, or blood sugar, is too high in an individual. The effects of diabetes can vary from an increased risk of heart disease to visionary impairment. According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), there are two major types of diabetic eye disorders: diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema (DME). Due to the increased likelihood of eye disorders and a potential lack of symptoms, the NEI recommends that a comprehensive eye exam should be completed at least once every year for those with diabetes.
Effects of Diabetes on the Eyes
The effects of diabetes on the eyes can vary, aside from the two major diabetic eye disorders. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults ranging from 20-74 years old. The side effects can be as simple as blurry vision, vision loss, and eye aches or pain. More severe consequences can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, or the aforementioned diabetic eye disorders.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disorder caused by diabetes. It can result in severe visual impairment and may even lead to blindness. Transformations in the blood vessels of the retina lead to diabetic retinopathy. A healthy retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, is crucial to healthy vision. With this disorder, blood vessels in the eye, stemming from the retina, may swell and lead to fluid leaks. In other cases, irregular new blood vessels may emerge on the outer layer of the retina. Symptoms may include spotty or blurred vision. If left untreated, this diabetic disorder can gradually get worse.
Diabetic macular edema, or DME, like diabetic retinopathy, is one of the leading causes of blindness for those who have diabetes. DME develops when tiny blood vessels in the eye begin to leak. The leaked fluid can lead to swelling of the central portion of the retina or the macula, which results in blurred vision. Image distortion, color or contrast changes, and scotomas, or blind spots in one’s eyesight, all can derive from DME. These symptoms gradually get worse if left untreated and should be carefully examined by an eye doctor.
Importance of Eye Exams
An annual eye exam can recognize and treat an irregularity in the early stages before it gets too late. Consistently visiting The Eye Center can be the reason you save yourself from an ongoing eye disorder or the need for extensive surgery. In essence, eye exams at every stage in your life are crucial to keeping your vision healthy and robust, so be sure to keep up with them.