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Diabetes and Your Vision

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of additional health problems, including vision and eye health issues. These conditions include diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Each one of these conditions affects the blood vessels in the back of the eyes, impacting an individual’s vision.

Early treatment of diabetes, ideally in the pre-diabetic phase, can help to prevent the development of diabetes-related diseases like the ones mentioned above. Elevated glucose levels in the pre-diabetic stage can cause temporary blurred vision. This is caused by swelling and changes to the fluid levels in your eyes. Generally, these symptoms are mild and go away once diabetes treatment and management stabilizes, and your glucose levels normalize.

If untreated, pre-diabetes can evolve into a diagnosis of diabetes. Individuals at this stage generally have maintained a high glucose level for a longer period of time, which can lead to damage to the blood vessels in your retina. The three diabetic eye diseases outlined above can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina, macula, and optic nerve. These are the most serious vision issues to be concerned about, as injury to blood vessels in your eyes can cause vision loss.

The best thing you can do for your overall health and eye health is to get yearly routine check-ups and eye exams. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for developing diabetes and how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle to reduce your chances. If you are at risk for developing diabetes and begin to experience floaters, blurriness, dark areas of vision, and difficulty perceiving colors, see your eye doctor immediately.

If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, it’s essential that you keep up with yearly eye exams and physicals with your primary care doctor. Your optometrist and doctor should work together to ensure your optimal overall health.

If you have any questions on this topic, or would like to discuss it further with your eye doctor, contact us today.