Diabetes is one of the three leading causes of death in our country, and this disease has probably touched someone important in your life. In fact, the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20 to 74 is diabetes. Diabetes can speed up certain eye problems, like cataracts and glaucoma, causing you to suffer from them at a younger age. Regular eye exams are extremely important if you have diabetes. Contact your eye doctor immediately if you see black spots, flashes, holes, or blurry vision.
Diabetes is the inability of the body to produce insulin, a hormone that regulate carbohydrates. This inability to produce insulin causes spikes in blood pressure, which is bad for various systems in the body. In relation to eye health, high blood sugar causes the lens of the eye to swell, which lessens a person’s ability to see. Blurred vision is often an immediate symptom of getting diabetes. But don’t immediately run and get glasses, as the blurred vision could be temporary. As you get your blood sugar under control, your eyesight can return to normal in up to 3 months. But you’ll still be at risk for cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy.
Cataracts fogs the lens of your eye. If you wear glasses, it’s like walking outside on a hot rainy day and your glasses fogging up. The cure for this is cataracts surgery, when the lens of the eyeball is removed and cleaned, or replaced.
Glaucoma is a condition where your eyes don’t drain liquid properly. This creates extra pressure inside your eye and damages blood vessels. The most common treatments for glaucoma are medications that cause the liquid to drain from your eye more freely, or a medication that causes less liquid to be produced. Annual screenings are the best for glaucoma, as there are few obvious symptoms.
Retinopathy is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The retina converts light into images. Good vision depends on a healthy retina. “Floaters” in your line of sight are a sign of retinopathy, but they are often a benign condition, so most people don’t pay attention to them or figure they are a normal part of aging.
The longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk for retinopathy. Controlling your diabetes significantly reduces your chances of getting retinopathy. Smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all increase the likelihood you’ll get retinopathy.
The three most common tests for these conditions are the visual acuity test, the dilated eye exam, and a tonometry. Dr. Abraham is a specialist in ocular disease, and will be able to tell the warning signs in the early stages, so you can take diabetes on together before any permanent damage happens. Contact us today if you need a diabetic eye examination on the Main Line.