Seeing the title of this article, you may be enquiring, “If diabetes is a disease of the kidneys and pancreas, what’s it got to do with my eyesight?” The answer is a hell lot.
People living with diabetes are at higher risk of catching cataracts, blurred vision, and diabetic retinopathy. These are all probably blinding but easy to treat if diagnosed early enough, which means it is imperative to attend your annual eye examinations.
Blurred vision is usually only temporary and maybe one of the first diabetes symptoms, but it may also transpire at any time if your diabetes is not adequately kept under control. This makes the lens to swell, resulting in blurred vision. When your diabetes is ultimately brought back under control, the temporary blurring will go away, and your eyesight shouldn’t need other treatment.
Clouding of the lens, also known as a cataract, is usually connected with older adults, but people with diabetes are prone to them at a relatively earlier age. This clouding prevents light from reaching the retina in the back of the eye, making the vision become dim or blurred. Cataracts are treated by eliminating the clouded lens and substituting it with a plastic one, allowing the eye to function correctly again.
Diabetic retinopathy is technically graded, depending on its severity, and if left untreated, it can lead to a permanent loss of sight. The first stage is acute background retinopathy, where the vessels (blood vessels) in the retina end up swelling and may leak fluid or hemorrhage. This does not impair your eyesight or the macula region of your eye (used for fine detail focus).
Maculopathy happens when the macula section of the retina is affected by background retinopathy. Your ability to observe fine detail (such as small print on a screen and objects in the distance) is involved. Your peripheral vision is properly maintained, and it is rare for someone with maculopathy to lose all her or his vision.
Proliferative retinopathy is the development of new blood vessels to replace those destroyed by background retinopathy. These new vessels pass over the retina and into the vitreous gel, causing retinal detachment as scar tissue forms and distorts the retina. This is very rare, but the loss of sight is severe and sudden, usually caused by the bleeding of the retinal detachment and new blood vessels.
You can treat diabetic retinopathy with laser therapy, in which the leaking blood vessels are sealed, or in proliferative retinopathy, some may be removed by the laser. Laser therapy does not enhance your eyesight; it can only preserve it. The earlier retinopathy is diagnosed and treated, the better your quality of sight that can be preserved, meaning you need to make and attend annual eye examinations.
These conditions are rare but severe. It is vital to keep your diabetes under control through exercise, diet, and remembering to take your insulin to stop the risk of losing your eyesight.