How Diabetes Affects Your Vision

Many diabetics have heard they can go blind from diabetes but they don’t actually know why.

Diabetes is a disease affecting small blood vessels. The long-term effects of high blood sugar levels cause these blood vessels to become leaky which can be viewed during an eye exam.

Diabetic changes are primarily seen in the light-sensing organ called the retina. The retina is a thin tissue paper-like organ lining the inside back surface of the eye. It is the only organ in the body we can see working with out using invasive techniques.

Changes with in the retina will often times mirror changes elsewhere in the body. For example, diabetic changes in the retina often mirror changes in the kidneys and nerves--two other common places where diabetes causes damage.

As the retinal blood vessels leak, alterations appear with in the retinal tissue. Most notable are small red spots, (hemorrhages), tiny fluffy cotton ball-appearing dots, thickening of the tissue paper-like retina and fine, lacey new blood vessels.

As the disease progresses the blood vessels’ leakiness increases and more of these changes are visible. Swelling of the central retina, called macular edema, causes blurry vision that often times requires laser treatment by a retinal specialist. The goal of treatment is to stop the swelling from getting worse and cause more blurry vision.

The most serious consequence of diabetic retinopathy is new blood vessel growth, called neovascularization. Compromised blood flow leads to poor oxygenation of retinal tissues. Consequently the retina grows new blood vessels to bring more oxygen. Unfortunately these blood vessels are fragile and often times break and bleed. Scars form as the retina heals and the retina can detach as the scar tissue contracts.. The result is a retinal detachment and blindness. That is why you can go blind from diabetes.

Maintaining a steady, low blood sugar level helps the body’s blood vessels remain leak-free and minimize the chance of dangerous diabetic changes from developing. The changes in the eye mirror the changes in the rest of the body.
Establishing yourself with both a physician and an eye doctor comfortable in treating diabetes will greatly improve your chances of staving off this disease’s ill effects. Prevention in this case is undoubtedly worth a pound of cure.

Contact the Provision staff at either the Venice or Englewood Florida locations today to schedule your appointment.