November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month.
Whether you know someone who has it or you are diabetic yourself, diabetes is a disease that most people have heard about at one time or another. Diabetes affects the ability to produce or utilize insulin, which controls the body’s blood sugar levels. Having a blood sugar level that is too high can cause damage to many parts of the body, including the heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. What you may not realize is how much it can affect the blood vessels in your eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is when damage is caused to the blood vessels of the retina due to high blood sugar levels. The type of damage to the vessels can vary from swelling and leakage, to closure and blood flow constriction. The formation of new, unwanted vessels can also take place. All of these changes can lead to loss of vision. There are two forms of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Most people with diabetes have NPDR, as this is the early stage of diabetic eye disease. PDR is the more advanced stage and starts with new blood vessel growth. This stage is very serious and can diminish central and peripheral vision. You don’t have to have diabetic retinopathy to have changes to your vision caused by diabetes. If your blood sugar spikes quickly, it can change the shape of your lens, thus changing the way you see until your sugar levels return to normal. Accelerated cataract formation is also a concern with uncontrolled sugar levels. This clouding can cause poor vision in low light, blurry vision, dull or yellow vision, light sensitivity and double vision. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure you’re keeping your annual eye exam appointments. These regular visits can save your vision from damage that may go unseen. For more information on diabetic eye disease, go to https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-diabetic-retinopathy.