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Anyone living with diabetes is familiar with the wide-ranging effects it can have on your body’s systems, and the eyes are affected as well. Over time, the wear and tear that diabetes puts on your eyes take the form of noticeable symptoms. As with any other type of disease, early detection is key. In this post, a Lake Stevens, WA optometrist talks about the effects of diabetes and what signs indicate it’s affecting your eyes.
Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t convert sugar into energy the way it should. This in turn leads to high blood sugar levels. If your sugar levels stay high, it can damage organs throughout the body, including the eyes. Over time, the effects of diabetes begin to cause inflammation in the tissues around the eyes.
When this happens, blood flows more slowly than it should through the blood vessels in the eyes, especially the vessels that lead to the retina. Because the retina plays a central role in producing the electrical signals your brain uses to create the images you see, restricted blood flow to the retina can compromise your vision. These developments cause a condition known as diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are likely to appear gradually as the effects of restricted blood flow begin to interfere with retinal function. As the condition worsens, the symptoms become more obvious.
Symptoms to look out for include:
If left untreated, the effects of diabetes on your eyes can continue to affect your vision and can even lead to blindness.
As with any health condition, the sooner diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed and treated, the better your vision is protected. So if you notice one or more of the above symptoms, it’s best to have your eyes checked.
An optometrist will perform a comprehensive eye exam that allows him or her to see the blood vessels at the back of the eye that lead to the retina. Depending on your condition, the optometrist will then develop a treatment plan that addresses any immediate eye problems you may have along with instructions on how best to manage the effects of high blood sugar.