Diabetic patients are at greater risk of developing other diseases; especially eye-related conditions. We know that a visit to the doctor can be intimidating for some of you; however, being informed and aware of your condition is the best way to prevent it from progressing further.
How diabetes affects your vision?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease where either your body is unable to produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin produced. Your body cells derive energy from the sugar and insulin helps your body in breaking down the glucose and delivers it to cells throughout your body.
When your body cannot use the insulin, sugar levels keep increasing in your blood. This condition is known as hyperglycemia and it affects each and every part of your body including the eyes.
Diabetes makes your vision blurry.
Blurry vision is the first sign that your blood glucose levels are high. Your vision gets blurry as fluid starts leaking through the lens of your eyes. As a result, the eye lenses swell and changes shape. This makes it tough for your eyes to focus and as a result, your vision gets distorted. To correct this condition, you have to bring down your blood sugar levels to normal.
Diabetes causes Cataract
Yes. Diabetes is one of the reasons behind cataract. This is a condition where your clear eye lenses become cloudy. While anyone can develop cataract, diabetic people get them earlier than non-diabetic people.
As your lens gets cloudy, your eyes cannot focus on objects properly and this affects your vision. You have to undergo a surgery for cataract removal. The doctor replaces cloudy lens with another artificial lens.
Diabetes can result in Glaucoma
Glaucoma is when the eye pressure increases to an unprecedented level. This happens when the eye fluid cannot drain properly. This damages the blood vessels in your eyes and can also damage the nerves. Open-Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of the condition. Doctors mostly prescribe medicines for treating Open Angle Glaucoma. The medicines help lower eye pressure, speed up the fluid drainage process, and also reduce the amount of liquid (aqueous humour) produced by your eyes.
This type of glaucoma often doesn’t cause any symptoms until it has progressed to an advanced level and you start losing your vision. Usually, it’s not possible to tell from the symptoms whether you have glaucoma or not. The initial symptoms are often misunderstood as being a minor issue. Primary symptoms include:
- Watery eyes
- Halos around lights
- Eye aches or pain
- Blurred vision
While it’s difficult for you to identify vision issues, an ophthalmologist can diagnose it in its early stage. And that’s why undergoing a thorough eye check-up is essential, especially if you have diabetes.
Treatment options can include medicine and eye drops. The eye care specialist may also prescribe laser treatment and surgery for improving drainage of fluid. If you have diabetes, you’re also at risk of developing a rare condition known as Neovascular Glaucoma.
In this condition, the blood vessels in the eye grow on the iris – the coloured part of your eye. This growth blocks the drainage of fluid and increases eye pressure. This condition is tough to treat; however, the doctor may try laser surgery to cut the additional growth. The doctor might also use implants for improving the fluid drainage.
As the name suggests, this eye condition is caused by diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, causing diabetic retinopathy.
The retina is a crucial part of your vision that takes in light, turns it into an image and then sends it to the brain through the optic nerve. This eye condition requires early treatment and failing to do so can cause permanent blindness. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. The risk of eye condition can be lowered if you keep your blood sugar levels under control.
There are several other types of this condition:
Background retinopathy: In this condition, the blood vessels are damaged; however, your vision isn’t lost. This might get worse if you do not control diabetes.
Maculopathy: In this condition, the macula, an important part of the retina is damaged, affecting your vision.
Proliferative retinopathy: This condition develops when the cells at the back of your eye don’t get enough oxygen, causing growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels are so fragile that they bleed and lead to a clot.
This may cause scars, pulling your retina away. The detachment of retina cause vision loss and this cannot be treated. However, sometimes this condition can be treated. A laser procedure is used for burning the blood vessels. Surgery is also an option. This can prevent blindness in people with early retinopathy.
If you have diabetes and are concerned about your eyes, here are a few questions that you may find helpful:
1. What are the ways to test eyes for diabetic eye disease?
You will never know that diabetes is slowly deteriorating up your vision until it’s too bad. It’s possible for your doctor to identify it during the early stages if you go for regular eye examinations. The optometrist will conduct the following tests to detect diabetic eye disease:
- Dilated Retinal Exam
The doctor will use a Snellen Chart (a chart with random letters of different size) for checking your vision. After that, he/she will apply eye drops to dilate the pupils of the eye. In this way, he/she can examine the back of your eye using a special magnifying glass.
The doctor mainly examines the back of the eye, the optic nerve, and the blood vessels in the front and middle of the eye. The doctor may also use a slit lamp to examine the cornea of the eye. The doctor might even take photographs of the back of your eyes for detailed examination.
- The Tonometry Test
This test is for measuring the fluid pressure in your eye. This test is performed to check whether any eye disease (such as Glaucoma) is damaging the nerves in the back of your eye or not.
2. What are the ways of treating diabetic retinopathy?
One type of medication is called “anti-VEGF” medication. This helps in reducing the swelling of the macula and slows the process of vision impairment. This may also help improve your vision. This drug is given through injections in the eye.
Laser surgery might be used to help seal off leaking blood vessels. This can reduce swelling of the retina. Laser surgery also helps in shrinking blood vessels and prevents their recurrence. Sometimes, the doctor may carry out multiple treatments for curing the condition.
The ophthalmologist may also suggest vitrectomy. In this surgery, the ophthalmologist removes the vitreous gel and blood that’s leaking from the blood vessels in the back of your eye. This helps light rays to focus properly on the retina. During the surgery, the doctor also removes scar tissues.
3. What kind of diet should one follow?
A good and well-balanced diet not only helps in controlling your blood sugar levels but also keeps your eyes healthy. Eat food items rich in Vitamin A, zeaxanthin, lutein, and Omega-3 fatty acid. You may include food items in your diet such as-
These are rich in Omega 3 fatty acid and are critical for maintaining the health of your retina. It also helps prevent dry eyes. Incorporate fish into your daily meal at least once a week.
This is a great food for your eye. It contains lutein, vitamin A, and zeaxanthin. These nutrients safeguard the eye from serious eye conditions and also, protect the retina.
- Dairy Products:
Milk and yoghurt are good for your eye health. These contain zinc and vitamin A. Zinc is mainly found in the retina and the choroids. This essential mineral keeps your eyes healthy.
- Citrus Fruit:
Citrus fruits contain Vitamin C which is vital for your eye health.
Follow a healthy meal plan comprising of fresh vegetables, lean meat, and wholegrain for keeping blood glucose levels in control and for maintaining eye health.
4. Foods that are to be avoided
Food items containing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and linoleic acid can put you at high risk for eye disease. Processed food, chocolate, margarine, french fries, chips, baked goodies such as cookies and cakes can increase your risk of eye disease.
Also, avoid aerated drinks. Junk food not only affects your cardiovascular health but also increase the blood glucose levels, exposing you to risk of developing eye conditions.
5. Who are at the risk of developing diabetic eye disease?
Anyone who has diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease; however, you are at greater risk if your blood glucose levels are extremely high and if you have high blood pressure. High cholesterol levels and smoking also increase your risk of developing diabetic eye condition. Diabetes during pregnanancy also increases your chances of developing eye issues. And in case you are at the initial phase of diabetic retinopathy, it can get worse during pregnancy.
6. What are the symptoms of diabetic eye disease?
The early symptoms of the diabetic eye disease are barely noticeable. You may not experience pain and even won’t experience any changes in your vision: meanwhile, your vision gets affected. This is especially true for diabetic retinopathy. Some of the initial symptoms that might occur include:
- blurry, distorted or wavy vision
- flashes of light
- poor colour vision
- dark areas in your visual field
- frequently changing vision (sometimes vision may change from day-to-day)
- spots or floaters in your visual field
Talk to your eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
7. Can diabetes cause cataract?
Yes. If you have Diabetes Mellitus then you are at greater risk of developing a cataract. The lens of your eyes derives its nutrients from aqueous humour, a fluid that fills the front part of the eye.
Aqueous humour provides glucose and oxygen. When you don’t have control over the blood glucose levels, the sugar levels increase in the aqueous humour. This causes the lens to swell, affecting your vision.
Moreover, the eye lens also contains an enzyme that converts glucose to sorbitol. When sorbitol accumulates in the lens, it affects the cells and the naturally-occurring proteins. This causes the lens to become less clear.
8. Can diabetes cause Retinal Detachment?
This condition is rare and is age-related. Retinal detachment occurs when the blood vessels responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the layer of cells located in the back portion of the eye starts pulling away. Prolonged levels of high blood sugar are one of the main reasons for retinal detachment. This damage results in the formation of scar tissue that can pull the retina out of position.
9. Who are at risk of retinal detachment?
You are at greater risk of developing retinal detachment if you are:
- between the ages of 50 and 75 years
- extremely short-sighted
- have diabetic retinopathy
Those who are short-sighted are more likely to develop retinal detachment as they are usually born with a thinner retina.
10. What to do to prevent diabetes-related blindness?
Early detection and timely treatment are the only ways of lowering the risks of diabetes-related blindness. More than anything else, you have to control your blood sugar levels. This slows down the onset of diabetic retinopathy and also reduces the chances of undergoing sight-correcting surgery.
Glaucoma and other eye conditions treatment in Kolkata
Looking for a good eye hospital in Kolkata for glaucoma treatment? Do not waste time and visit Disha Eye Hospital today. For more details, get in touch with us at http://www.dishaeye.org/contact-us.