What is Diabetes?
Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause for blindness. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body doesn’t produce any or enough insulin, leading to an excess of sugar in the blood.
Types of Diabetes
There are type 1 and type 2. And sometimes women temporarily develop diabetes during pregnancy; this is called gestational diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs mostly in children, adolescents and young adults. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer produces insulin, making type 1 diabetics dependent on daily insulin injections for their survival.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs much later in life, generally after 40 years of age. If your body's tissues don't respond properly to the action of insulin (insulin resistance) you have type 2 diabetes. About 90% of diabetics have this type. In the last few years, this type of diabetes is occurring earlier.
What are the eye complications involved in Diabetes?
Diabetic retinopathy (Leaky blood vessels on the back of the eye
If your blood glucose levels are too high or they are not well controlled, you may have blurry vision and your eyeglass prescription may fluctuate. It may also be hard for your eyes to focus properly. So controlling your blood sugar levels usually help.
An important cause of vision problems in people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. This is a change in the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina. In the early stages, the blood vessels weaken and leak fluid or tiny amounts of blood. This causes swelling of the retina. At this stage you may have normal vision or you may notice that your vision has blurred or changed.
When retinopathy is more advanced, the blood vessels become blocked or closed and parts of the retina die. New, abnormal blood vessels grow to replace the old ones. The new vessels are fragile and often bleed into the eye, blocking your vision. Then scar tissue forms, and it shrinks and tears the retina and makes it bleed or even detach from the back of your eye. This can lead to severe visual loss or blindness.
The longer you have diabetes, the higher your risk of having diabetic retinopathy. Remember, a thorough annual eye exam is strongly recommended, if you are diabetic.