Understanding How Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision

Most of your body’s fuel comes from the food you eat. Glucose is sugar that provides essential energy for your muscles, organs, and your brain. When you eat, your body processes the food into glucose and your pancreas uses a hormone called insulin to help your cells absorb the glucose.

Diabetes is a condition that interferes with your body’s ability to process and use glucose for energy. In some cases of diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin and in others, the body can’t use the insulin it creates properly. When your body can’t process sugar efficiently, the sugar can build up in your blood.

Because glucose is the main source of fuel for your brain, organs, and muscle tissue, diabetes can cause severe complications. High blood sugar can lead to nerve damage in your eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, and even blindness. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. At UltraVision, our team of experts is here to help you understand how diabetes affects your vision so you can better manage your condition.

Diabetic retinopathy

People with diabetes often have high blood sugar. If left uncontrolled, high blood sugar can damage nerves across your body. While nerve damage in your legs or feet is most common, you may also suffer nerve damage to your eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy is the term used to describe nerve damage to your eyes that’s caused by diabetes. High blood sugar over a long period of time can damage the small blood vessels in the retina of your eye. Your retina is responsible for detecting light and sending signals to your brain through the optic nerve.

With diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels may bleed or leak fluid that distorts your vision. Diabetic retinopathy can range from mild to severe. Blurry vision is often an early sign of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, you may notice specks floating in your vision, dark areas of vision, or vision loss.

A condition called diabetic macular edema (DME) can develop in patients with diabetic retinopathy. DME occurs when fluid builds up in the macula region of your retina. The macula is the area of the retina that detects vision straight ahead, and you use it for driving, recognizing faces, and more. DME can cause blurry vision and it’s the most common cause of vision loss for people with diabetic retinopathy.

Blurry vision with diabetes

Some people with diabetes suffer from other types of vision impairment, but not diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes can put your eyes at increased risk for blurry vision, cataracts, and glaucoma. Managing your condition through proper diet and exercise and regularly checking your blood sugar levels can help keep vision damage at bay when you suffer from diabetes.

High blood sugar can cause the lens of your eye to swell. The swelling can distort or blur your vision, but getting your blood sugar back to the target range can clear this type of blurry vision. Expect your vision to take a few months to clear as you work to stabilize your blood sugar.

Cataracts occur when the lens of your eye gets cloudy. The lens can get progressively cloudier, interfering with your eye’s ability to focus and see. Anyone can develop cataracts, but people with diabetes often develop cataracts much more quickly than people without the condition.

High blood sugar can also lead to increased pressure in your eyes. Glaucoma occurs when the pressure in your eyes builds up and damages the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss. Pressure builds when the fluids in your eye can’t drain properly, a side effect that sometimes comes along with diabetes.

When you have diabetes, it’s important to visit the eye doctor regularly. At UltraVision, we can help you monitor your condition, detecting any changes and keeping your vision as clear as possible. To schedule your first appointment, call our office or use our online booking tool today.

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