Long-Term Diabetic Patients at High Risk for Eye Disease


Diabetic Eye Disease Risks

Diabetes can interfere with many essential body functions, affecting your heart, kidneys and nerves, but diabetic eye diseases are often forgotten — until they cause vision loss. Researchers have found that the longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk of developing certain eye diseases, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular edema and cataracts. However, there are ways you can prevent or slow their progression through controlling diabetes and annual eye exams at Intracoastal Eye.

How Does Diabetes Harm Your Eyes?

Your eyes are affected when your blood sugar (blood glucose) is too high, especially long-term. The initial eye-related symptom of high blood sugar is blurry vision because the excess glucose changes the fluid levels in your eye or causes the ocular tissues to swell, but this subsides when your levels return to a normal range.

Long-term high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the back of your eye where the retina (light-sensitive tissue) is found. These tiny vessels can experience damage even before diabetes is diagnosed and may leak fluid or swell. Your eyes respond by creating newer, weaker blood vessels that also leak and swell and may bleed into the middle area of the eye (macula), causing scarring and increased eye pressure.

Diabetic eye diseases may come with no warning signs, pain or changes in vision as the damage starts inside your eye. The symptoms associated with diabetes-related eye conditions include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Wavy vision
  • Frequent changes in vision
  • Patchy blind spots or dark areas
  • Decreased color vision
  • “Floaters” or dark strings in your field of vision
  • Light flashes

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s critical to contact our eye doctors immediately. Increased eye floaters and light flashes can signal a detached retina and constitutes a medical emergency. Intracoastal Eye utilizes advanced laser technology to remove eye floaters and specializes in eye disease treatment.

Follow the Diabetes ABCs – Control A1C, Blood Pressure and Cholesterol and Stop Smoking

The A1C test measures your blood glucose to find the average level for the last three months. The goal for A1C is below 7 percent for most people with diabetes, but this varies. Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol to maintain a healthy heart (and eyes). Quit smoking because the combination of diabetes and smoking further narrows your blood vessels, making your body work harder. Keeping your diabetes ABCs in check will lower your risk of developing eye disease along with heart disease, nerve damage, stroke and kidney disease.

Schedule A Dilated Eye Exam Every Year

Diabetic eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can initially present with no warning signs until some vision is lost. Annual comprehensive eye exams at Intracoastal Eye can catch the eye problems caused by diabetes and prevent vision loss. During these appointments, we test your eyesight and evaluate the pressure in your eyes to identify concerns early and develop an effective treatment plan.

If you have diabetes or another vision concern, contact our Wilmington office today to schedule your eye exam.