Diabetes and eye health: What's the link?
In Canada, diabetes is one of the major health problems. It is the cause of many complications, including vision problems. Fortunately, the risk of complications can be minimized through appropriate disease control. What is the link between diabetes and the health of your eyes? What are the major eye symptoms? Here is our detailed article to understand everything.
Understand diabetes and its impact on eye health
Diabetes is a chronic disease that involves a malfunction of the pancreas. Put simply, diabetes prevents the body from producing or using insulin. This substance allows the cells of the body to absorb sugar. Without insulin, sugar cannot enter our cells and it stays in the blood. It is for this reason that a diabetic person has a high blood sugar level.
The different types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, which is rarer, often appears in adolescence and is more of a hereditary origin.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, often occurs after the age of 40. However, the increase in obesity in the younger population is creating an increase in the number of people with diabetes before the age of 40.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a more gradual and sneaky onset of symptoms. Symptoms related to uncontrolled diabetes are mainly:
- increased thirst or hunger;
- more frequent urination;
- great fatigue;
- weight loss;
- frequent infections;
- wounds that are slow to heal;
- numbness in the hands and feet.
The consequences of diabetes on eye health
Uncontrolled diabetes affects the quality of sight. Here are the major eye symptoms:
- blurred vision;
- a vision that fluctuates from day to day;
- a double vision.
The eye complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes are numerous, they include:
- vision changes;
- damage to the nerves or muscles that allow eye movement;
- diabetic retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is like a "photographic camera" inside our eye that captures the images we see. This damage can lead to bleeding or fluid build-up in the retina. New blood vessels may also appear, which are more fragile and bleed more easily. In certain cases, ophthalmologists can treat diabetic retinopathy with laser treatments, injections, or surgery.
However, any damage already caused is often irreversible. It is therefore important to prevent diabetic retinopathy. First, by following your doctor's recommendations on treating diabetes. Whether through diet, exercise, medication or insulin injection. It is also essential that they get screened for early retinopathy at least once a year, with a detailed eye examination.
This examination can be done by a qualified optometrist or by an ophthalmologist. Make an appointment as soon as possible if you notice changes in your vision. If your optometrist detects an ocular complication related to diabetes, he will refer you to an ophthalmologist for an evaluation or specialized care.
In addition, your eye care professional will let you know how often they want to see you. In short, remember that early screening and treatment of diabetic retinopathy may minimize the risk of severe vision loss.