One out of 10 adults over the age of 20 has been diagnosed with diabetes. Many adults can suffer from the effects of sugar fluctuations on their eye health. Diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 20 years old in the United States.
The three most common effects of diabetes on the eye are diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the blood vessels in the back of the eye swell and leak fluid. This excess fluid causes vision loss. Cataracts (a clouding of the lens) can have an earlier onset in patients with diabetes. Glaucoma (an increase in the fluid pressure of the eye) can lead to optic nerve damage and consequently permanent vision loss. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics.
The visual consequences of diabetes are treatable, however the best prevention is not only to control your blood sugar levels but to also have a YEARLY dilated eye exam with your optometrist. Early detection can save your eye sight.
Remember to control your ABC’s: A1C (blood glucose), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Weight management, increased physical activity, and no smoking all will help to control the side effects of diabetes. For more detailed information, please visit the National Eye Institute website.