Diabetes Awareness Month
Are you a type 1 or type 2 diabetic? Did you know that diabetes can have multiple effects on vision?
Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s insulin production cannot efficiently take care of the body’s intake of sugar. High levels in sugar in the body cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves all over the body. Our eyes are the only place in the human body where we can see your blood vessels directly.
Diabetes can cause permanent vision loss if not managed properly. Increases in blood sugar levels can cause sharp changes in your prescription, and fluctuations that can cause vision to change throughout the day. Diabetes can also cause premature cataracts that can cause changes in vision and may need to be removed.
Diabetes also affects the blood vessels within the brain, causing changes in nerve functioning and double vision. Double vision should be taken very seriously and needs to be investigated by your health care team, including your optometrist.
More importantly diabetes can affect the retina. The retina is the tissue at the back of the eye that captures light. If your retina is unhealthy the eye cannot capture light for your brain to form an image of what you are seeing. Diabetes affects the blood vessels that feed the retina, causing them to bulge and eventually bleed. With bleeding you can get swelling of the tissue that can cause permanent vision loss if not caught early. At the beginning there are few changes to vision, which is why an annual comprehensive eye exam is so important.
The longer we have diabetes the higher the risk for changes to the retina. Bleeding can lead to scar tissue forming and can cause the tissue to eventually rip off. It is really important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels if you are diabetic to reduce your risk of ocular complications.
All diabetic patients should get their eyes examined by an optometrist once a year. Each eye exam should include a dilated fundus exam to ensure that the retinal tissue is healthy and no cataracts have developed. OHIP covers one full eye examination a year, and any emergencies for patients of any age that are diabetic.