Diabetes And Vision Health: What You Need To Keep An Eye Out For

Diabetes is a health condition that causes an individual’s blood sugar levels to rise above what is deemed a safe baseline. Someone can develop one of the four main kinds of diabetes for one of two reasons; either their body does not produce enough insulin or does not respond appropriately to insulin. Both of these causes result in blood glucose levels that are higher than a normal and safe amount.

One of the symptoms of diabetes is blurry vision, which can in turn result in further complications if not cared for properly. Diabetics are more prone to developing vision problems because of high blood glucose. When blood sugar is too high, there can be changes in the fluid levels surrounding the eyes, which can cause the tissue to swell, ultimately leading to blurred vision. Typically, blurred vision is a temporary symptom of diabetes until blood sugar levels are under control again, but sometimes there can be permanent damage if glucose levels are elevated over a long period of time.

Keep reading to learn the warning signs and steps to take for proper eye health when living with diabetes.


Know The Signs

It’s crucial to know the signs of diabetic vision problems so that your eyesight can be preserved. Some of the most common symptoms of diabetic eye diseases include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Consistent changes in vision quality
  • Difficulty seeing color
  • Light flashes
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination

If any of these symptoms occur, it’s necessary to contact your doctor right away. Aside from these general symptoms, there are more specific symptoms associated with different eye-health complications. Diabetes can increase the chance of developing the following vision diseases:

Diabetic Retinopathy- A diabetic eye disease caused by blood vessel damage to the retina. The early stages may not come with any noticeable symptoms, but over time dark spots in the vision, inconsistent vision, difficulty seeing color, and empty areas in your eyesight could occur in both eyes.

Glaucoma- An eye disease in which the optic nerve is damaged due to pressure in the eye. Diabetic adults have twice the chance of developing glaucoma as adults without diabetes. Symptoms of glaucoma include redness in the eye, nausea or vomiting, tunnel vision, and eye pain.

Cataracts- An eye disease that causes cloudiness in the lens of your eyes. Those living with diabetes are more prone to develop cataracts at a younger age than those living without diabetes. Symptoms of cataracts include spotty vision, yellowed vision, blurry vision, and being startled by bright light.

Visit The Eye Doctor Regularly

The first step to managing vision health for those with diabetes is to visit the eye doctor regularly for a diabetic eye exam. It’s important to schedule this specific exam versus a regular eye exam as they check for different things. A diabetic eye exam will typically include more extensive tests and pupil dilation in order to check for common diabetes-induced eye diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or cataracts.

People with Type 1 Diabetes should get an eye exam within the first five years after being diagnosed, while those with Type 2 should visit the eye doctor as soon as they can. This difference in timeline is because those with T2D may have had diabetes long before they were diagnosed, which means they could have developed an eye disease without even knowing it. Meanwhile, those with T1D don’t need to visit the eye doctor right away because damage will take a while to occur. After the initial eye exam, though, it’s important to visit the eye doctor for a diabetic eye exam annually regardless of which kind of diabetes you are diagnosed with.

Women planning to become pregnant should visit the eye doctor before pregnancy or within the first trimester to monitor their vision health. Sometimes, women with diabetes are at a higher risk for vision complications during pregnancy due to changes in hormones. Consult with your doctor to stay on top of your vision health throughout your pregnancy to ensure proper eye care.

Manage Blood Sugar Levels

The most important step when it comes to preventing diabetic eye disease is to properly monitor and manage your blood sugar levels. As previously mentioned, blood sugar levels that are not properly managed can cause dangerous changes in the fluid surrounding the eyes that can lead to swelling in the eye tissue making it more likely to develop an eye disease. Follow your doctor’s diabetes plan to ensure you’re caring for yourself properly and managing diabetes effectively. Be sure to engage in a daily fitness routine that works for you and keep your diet on track to maintain blood sugar levels. If needed, join a support group with other diabetics so you can be there for one another through this journey. Living with diabetes can be tricky, but as long as you are actively managing your health and looking out for warning signs, you will drastically decrease your chances of developing a diabetes-related vision disease.