Over 10% of people in the US have diabetes, a group of diseases that leads to too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood. With proper management, you can lead a full and overall healthy life. However, if your diabetes goes poorly managed or ignored, you can develop a range of potentially serious complications, including eye problems. And regardless, having diabetes brings an increased risk of eye disease.
For these reasons, taking care of your eye health can be just as important as eating a healthy diet and monitoring your blood sugar levels. At Suburban Eyes Clinic in Evanston, Illinois, ophthalmologist Dr. Phillip Wu and his team provide expert diabetic eye care. Read on to better understand why such care is so vital.
Uncontrolled blood sugar and eye health
High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, can trigger a series of events that ultimately damages your blood vessels. When this happens, it interferes with blood flow to your eyes. If your blood sugar remains high, it pulls water into the lenses of your eyes. This can cause a range of eye problems, such as:
- Blurred vision
- Nerve damage
- Retinal damage or detachment
- Weakened blood vessels
The longer your diabetes goes unmanaged, the higher your chances become of developing full-fledged diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic eye disease
The term diabetic eye disease emcompasses several eye problems, including a heightened risk for serious eye conditions because of the changes in blood flow and fluid buildup brought on by blood sugar imbalances. While anyone can develop cataracts, for example, diabetes increases your risk by 2-5 times. Other diabetes-related eye conditions include diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, diabetic macular edema, and blindness.
Many of these conditions are progressive, with one leading to another and then another. For instance, diabetic retinopathy starts with damaged blood vessels in the retina, or the light-sensitive tissue near the back of the eye. If the damage isn’t repaired, you can develop aneurysms in the vessel walls, which block blood circulation to the retina, causing swelling and then fluid buildup. Once this occurs, you have diabetic macular edema, as your body tries to replace blocked blood vessels with new ones, which tend to be extremely weak. This leads to more fluid buildup, this time in the macula. These fluids bring pressure to your eyes, which can result in glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide.
When to see a doctor
Whenever you notice eye symptoms, such as vision changes, flashes of light, or pain, you should seek prompt medical care. And since many diabetes-related eye conditions show no obvious symptoms at first, routine eye exams are extremely important.
During your comprehensive exam, we dilate your eyes and carefully examine the nerves and blood vessels to detect any problems. In some cases, Dr. Wu can diagnose diabetes in patients before they realize they have it by his findings.
To learn more about diabetic eye care or to schedule an appointment, call Suburban Eyes Clinic at 847-424-1100, or use our online booking feature.