Diabetes can wreak havoc on blood vessels and nerves located throughout your body – including your eyes. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing diabetic eye disease and associated eye conditions.
Signs That Diabetes Is Affecting Your Eyes
Common symptoms indicating that high blood sugar levels may be affecting your eyes include:
- Blurry vision
- Blind spots in your field of vision
- An increase in the number of floaters you see
- Colors appear dull and faded
- Double vision
Many of these symptoms can occur for a variety of reasons. That’s why it’s important to see a trusted ophthalmologist to determine what type of diabetic eye disease or other eye condition you might have. It’s also critical to regularly get dilated eye exams to monitor the health of your eyes. Doing so can help preserve your vision long into the future.
Diabetic Eye Diseases
The two main eye diseases patients with diabetes are prone to are:
- Diabetic retinopathy is when poorly controlled diabetes causes the blood vessels in your retina (at the back of the eye) to swell or leak. This can result in symptoms such as increased floaters, blurry vision, dark areas within your line of sight, and faded colors. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in adults with diabetes.
- Diabetic macular edema is often a complication of diabetic retinopathy. It occurs when the macula, at the center of the retina, swells due to leaky blood vessels caused by diabetic retinopathy. It can lead to vision problems such as double vision, floaters, blurry vision, dark areas, and faded colors. There is no cure for diabetic macular edema – but treatment is available that can slow its progression and help prevent blindness.
If you have diabetes, you also have an increased risk of developing:
- Cataracts describe the cloudy buildup on the eye’s lens that occurs with age. In patients with poorly controlled diabetes, cataracts can progress more quickly or earlier than usual. Early signs and symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision, difficulty driving at night, lights that appear very bright or have a halo, faded colors, and frequent changes to your corrective lens prescription. Cataract surgery is the only way to cure cataracts.
- Glaucoma is when increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve, affecting your ability to see. In patients with diabetes, increased eye pressure occurs when damaged blood vessels in the retina lead to the growth of new but weak and improperly developed blood vessels. There are typically no signs or symptoms of glaucoma until the optic nerve has been damaged. At that point, common symptoms include blind spots that get progressively worse over time, especially along the periphery of your visual field.
Diabetic Eye Care in South Florida
If you have diabetes, or prediabetes, or are concerned about fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, make sure you see a qualified ophthalmologist to regularly check the health of your eyes. At Miramar Eye Institute in Miramar, Florida, we regularly treat patients with diabetes, including running all the appropriate tests. We can prescribe medications or conduct surgical procedures, as needed.