Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially vision threatening condition in which the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged by high blood sugar levels.
Diabetes can also affect your vision by causing cataracts at a younger age and your chances of developing glaucoma are doubled.
Because early stages of diabetic retinopathy often have no symptoms, the vision may not be affected until the disease becomes severe. You should see your Ophthalmologist soon after your Diabetes is diagnosed, and then promptly if you experience visual changes that:
- Affect only one eye.
- Lasts for more than a few days.
- Are not associated with a change in blood sugar.
Once diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete dilated eye examination with your Ophthalmologist at least once a year.
Important things to remember:
People with diabetes can protect their vision by having a dilated eye exam every year – this can lead to early detection of eye disease.
Your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases with the number of years you have had diabetes. After 15 years with the disease almost 80% of people with type I diabetes have some form of diabetic eye disease. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can usually prevent permanent vision loss.
Pregnant women with diabetes should have an eye exam in the first trimester because diabetic eye disease can progress rapidly during pregnancy.
Rapid changes in blood sugar can cause temporary changes in vision even if diabetic eye disease isn’t present.
It is especially important to keep blood sugar in good control for a few days before being examined for glasses because your blood sugar levels can affect your vision and you may end up with corrected lenses that don’t work for you later. Good control of your blood sugar can help ensure you get the right prescription.