Diabetic Eye Diseases
When you have diabetes, there is a good chance you’ve already begun to show signs of diabetic retinopathy. This disease develops as a result of glucose building up in the retina’s blood vessels over time. This build-up blocks blood flow, making these vessels bulge. The body may attempt to compensate by creating new blood vessels. Unfortunately, these new vessels are thin and delicate, so they often break. This causes them to leak blood and other fluids into your retina, damaging your retina and compromising your vision.
Diabetic macular edema (DME) occurs when diabetic retinopathy isn’t treated correctly. When fluid from broken vessels leak, it can cause the macula of your eye to swell slowly over time, crushing your optic nerve and slowly damaging your central vision.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, and the risk of developing this disease doubles when you have diabetes. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage canal in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) becomes blocked.
These blockages prevent the flow of intraocular fluids, raising your intraocular pressure (IOP). As your IOP levels rise, it can damage your optic disc, leading to vision loss.
Cataracts are a widespread eye condition that many of us will develop as we age. However, the chances of developing cataracts increase with diabetes. Cataracts are the gradual “clouding-over” of your eye’s lens. A cataract develops as your eye’s lens becomes more opaque, less flexible, and denser.
There are a few cataract workarounds that your optometrist can suggest, including prescribing contact lenses and glasses. However, the only cure for cataracts is cataract-removal surgery.