Diabetes and the Eye
What is it?
Diabetes is a disease that prevents the body from making or using insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that allows the body to properly utilize sugars. Problems with insulin lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. High levels of sugar in the blood result in damage to the small and medium sized blood vessels throughout the body, causing them to become leaky and dysfunctional.
How does it affect the eye?
If blood sugar levels become elevated for an extended period of time, it can cause the lens in the eye to swell which in turn causes fluctuations in vision and your prescription. This can also result in the formation of early cataracts, double vision, and even paralysis of nerves controlling your eye muscles.
Retinopathy is the most common ocular complication secondary to diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels causes weakness in the blood vessels within the retina. This results in leakage of blood and fats into the retina leading to swelling and distorted vision. If left untreated, it can result in permanent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause blurred vision, fluctuations in vision, and even double vision in extreme cases. If you notice that your vision seems off, schedule an eye exam with us to have your eyes evaluated.
If you are a diabetic patient, your optometrist will dilate your pupils yearly to assess the health of your retina. Dilating your pupils allows your optometrist to assess 100% of the retina, versus only being able to assess around 30% of the retina without dilation.
Depending on the severity of the retinopathy, there are various treatment options. Your optometrist may choose to monitor your condition closely if it is mild, or send you to a retina specialist for laser treatment or injections of medication in severe cases. The best way to prevent any ocular complications associated with diabetes is to simply closely monitor your blood sugar levels and keep them at the levels recommended by your family physician. Annual eye exams are recommended for diabetic patients to monitor for any changes.
What is it?
The retina is the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye. It is made up of many different cells that transmit the light we see to the brain where it is processed as vision. During a retinal detachment, some or all of the layers of the retina can separate from the back of the eye causing vision loss. Retinal detachments have many causes including trauma to the eye/head, diabetes, eye surgeries, and from high myopia (near sightedness).
Patients typically notice small flashing lights in their vision, black floating spots, or in severe cases a “black curtain” over their vision. Some cases do not present with any symptoms at all.
A retinal detachment can be diagnosed by having your pupils dilated by our optometrists to allow assessment of the peripheral retina, which is the most common location of a retinal detachment.
If our optometrists find that you have a detached retina, or even a tear in your retina, they will refer you to a retina specialist. Surgery is required to try and re-attach the retina to restore vision. This is usually accomplished by treatment with a laser or by a freezing technique. Depending on the severity and how long the retina has been detached, vision is usually restored after treatment. Wearing proper eye protection during sports and other activities can help prevent trauma to the eye and thus retinal detachments. Early detection is important which is why yearly dilation is recommended to patients with high myopia (near sightedness) and diabetes.