If you have type-2 diabetes, you're at an increased risk of developing certain problems with your eye health, particularly if your diabetes is not well controlled. This is because high blood sugar levels can damage the protein structure of the cells in your eyes, which can impact the overall health of your eyes or damage certain areas of your eye. Here are three ways type-2 diabetes can impact your eye health:
Cell damage in the blood vessels of your eyes can prevent fluid from draining and damage nerve endings. This can lead to glaucoma developing, which is characterised by a build-up of pressure around the optic nerve. Symptoms of glaucoma include blurred vision, watery eyes, seeing floaters or flashes in your peripheral vision and eye pain. If left untreated, this condition can cause permanent sight loss due to optic nerve damage. Glaucoma can be treated with medication to reduce inflammation and encourage the build-up of fluid to drain from the eye. Laser surgery can also be carried out to open or repair damaged blood vessels.
A cataract occurs when damaged protein in the lens of your eye clusters together to form an opaque layer that inhibits light entering your eye. This condition leads to loss of vision, and initial symptoms include difficulty focusing on objects, hazy vision and reduced peripheral vision. In people with diabetes, the condition tends to progress faster than it does in the general population, so it's not uncommon for complete sight loss to occur rapidly after initial cell damage. A cataract can be treated by surgically removing the damaged lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. The procedure is carried out using local anaesthetic, and a laser is used to break up the damaged lens before it's sucked out of the lens holder. Your vision will improve immediately after the procedure, but if you want to prevent a cataract from developing in your other eye, you'll need to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
Retinal Vascular Occlusion
Retinal vascular occlusion occurs when there are blockages in the blood vessels in your retina. The retina processes light that enters your eye and sends it to your brain, where it's transformed into the images you see. When blocked blood vessels cause a build-up of blood to develop around the retina, you can experience loss of vision due to the retina not being able to function as it should. Common early symptoms of retinal vascular occlusion include light sensitivity, reduced night vision and visual disturbances. Severe damage to the retina can cause it to detach from the tissue at the back of your eye, which can cause blindness. Treatment includes controlling your blood sugar to prevent further cell damage, steroids to decrease swelling at the back of your eye and anticoagulant medication to prevent any more blood from pooling around the retina.
Those with type-2 diabetes should have regular eye tests to allow problems to be identified early and to prevent unnecessary damage to their eyes. If you have concerns about your eye health, schedule an eye test as soon as possible.