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Posted on 07-28-2017

Can Diabetes Impair Your Vision?

Understanding how diabetes can affect your vision begins with understanding how much the retina relies on a healthy blood supply provided by a vast network of tiny blood vessels. Type II diabetes (the most commonly diagnosed form of diabetes) causes hyperglycemia or elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Researchers have discovered that excess glucose prevents the production of certain fatty acids that allow cells to create normal blood vessels in the eye. Eventually, dying blood vessels are replaced by unhealthy, leaky blood vessels that fail to provide the retina and other eye components the oxygenated blood they need to function properly. If you have diabetes, your El Paso eye doctor offers specialized tests to determine if diabetes is affecting your visual abilities.

Woman getting checked for diabetic eye diseases.

Eye Problems Related to Diabetes

  • Cataracts - Diabetes may cause the eye's lens to cloud over with proteins that abnormally accumulate over time. Cataracts may develop when high glucose levels in the fluid surrounding the lens force the lens to enlarge and swell, causing light to focus unnaturally on the retina. Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to start developing cataracts at an earlier age.
  • Glaucoma - Diabetes is often co-diagnosed with high blood pressure. Glaucoma is caused by high intraocular pressure that will damage the optic nerve unless regulated with medications or surgery. Receiving regular glaucoma testing is essential for people with diabetes to avoid permanent vision impairment.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy - When high blood glucose levels specifically target your eyes' blood vessels, these vessels may leak, become blocked or develop incorrectly, causing vision impairment. Out of three types of diabetic retinopathy, maculopathy, proliferative retinopathy, and background retinopathy, the most commonly diagnosed is background retinopathy. This kind involves blocked capillaries in the retina that produce microaneurysms (swellings). Sometimes, these swellings leak either blood or fluids called exudates. Although background diabetic retinopathy doesn't usually cause vision problems, you will still need to visit your eye doctor regularly to ensure the condition isn't worsening.

Contact Our Local Optometrist in El Paso for More Information

People with diabetes need to pay special attention to their eye health and vision. To schedule an appointment at University Vision Centre in El Paso for a diabetic eye examination, please contact us at 915-533-1811 today.

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