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November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month. The body’s cells need glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin breaks down and delivers the glucose to these cells. Diabetes occurs when a person’s body:

  • cannot produce insulin,
  • doesn’t produce enough insulin, or
  • cannot use insulin efficiently.

The sugar levels build up in the body and lead to a condition called hyperglycemia. This hyperglycemia can affect every part of the body, including the eyes.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease refers to eye problems that can affect people with diabetes especially if their sugar levels are poorly controlled. The most common of which are:

  • diabetic macular edema,
  • diabetic retinopathy, and
  • cataracts

Signs

One of the first signs of diabetes is blurry vision. Over time, this can lead to blindness if not treated. However, sometimes the damage can begin with no warning signs. There might be no pain or change in vision, particularly with diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, eye tests are essential for early detection.

Other symptoms include:

  • Wavy vision
  • Frequently changing vision and glasses prescription
  • Flashes of light
  • Dark areas or vision loss
  • Poor colour vision
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Sudden reduction in distance and near vision despite using glasses
  • Dark Spots or strings (floaters)

All these are due to:

  • bleeding at the back of the eye (retina)
  • accumulation of fluid at the retina from damaged blood vessels

Prevention

The best practice is to watch your blood glucose, blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. Avoid smoking and drinking and get a dilated eye exam yearly.

Treatment

Your doctor would recommend an eye test and help with managing your general health. For the eyes there can be:

The choices will depend on the type of disease and degree of damage. But all of this is dependent on keeping your blood sugar level under control.

People over the age of 40 are advised to watch their diabetic ABCs (blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels) closely to prevent the onset of diabetes and attendant diseases. Contact us for more information and assistance in the management of eye-related diabetic ailments. A healthy lifestyle is important to prevent diabetic eye disease.