Eye Problems Can Be a Concern When You Have Diabetes

Health Minute

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If you have diabetes, it’s important to pay extra attention to your eye health. People frequently relate having high blood glucose – having high blood sugar – with heart and kidney problems, but don’t always know the problems it can cause eyes as well, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Some eye complications that you are more at risk of getting than someone without diabetes – according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA) – include:

  • Glaucoma – You are 40 percent more likely to end up with glaucoma if you have diabetes. The risk of this issue also increases with age. With glaucoma, pressure builds in the eye, and the pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Your vision is lost over time as the retina and nerve are damaged.
  • Cataracts – Anyone can get cataracts, but people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop the issue. If you have diabetes, your cataracts also can occur younger and progress faster. Cataracts cause your eye’s clear lens to become clouded and block the light.
  • Retinopathy – This is the most common diabetic eye disease and the leading cause of blindness in adults in the U.S. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina. There are two main types of retinopathy – one in which the blood vessels swell and leak fluid, and one in which more and more blood vessels are blocked.

The best ways, according to the NIH, to help prevent diabetes from causing eye problems include:

  • Asking your eye doctor if you have signs of cataracts and glaucoma
  • Controlling your blood glucose level
  • Not smoking
  • Haveing an eye exam with an eye doctor once a year to make sure your vision is OK
  • If you are already pregnant and have diabetes, have an eye exam during your first trimester
  • If you have plans to try to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about having an eye exam first

The more effort you put into taking care of your eyes if you have diabetes, the more likely you are to prevent having these serious eye problems in the future.

For more information about diabetes-related eye problems, talk with your doctor or visit us online to find a physician.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.