Diabetic eye disease refers to several different eye conditions that are more common in people with diabetes. Despite the name of this group, these eye conditions are not necessarily exclusive to people that have diabetes. As well, not all people with diabetes may develop these eye conditions.
Eye Conditions Associated With Diabetic Eye Disease
- Diabetic Retinopathy – Of the eye diseases that impact diabetics, this is the most common.The cause of diabetic retinopathy is blood vessels inside the retina changing. These changes, such as abnormal growth on the surface of the retina, impair vision. These blood vessels also leak a fluid into the eye, further obstructing vision.
There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Nonproliferative (mild/moderate/severe) – increasingly serious stages of retinopathy. Blood vessels called microaneurysms form on the retina, growing in number and intensity. They may leak fluid into the retina.
- Proliferative – New blood vessels proliferate, grow, die, and create scar tissue that can cause retinal detachment.
Treatment of diabetic retinopathy differs depending on the type and stage of its development. Common treatments include medication, vitrectomy (removal of the excess blood in the eye), and laser treatments.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma, while a risk for many people, is a larger risk for diabetics. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of Glaucoma. Read more about Glaucoma here.
- Cataracts – Also not exclusive to diabetics, the risk of cataracts is increased for those with the disease. This is when the lens of the eye begins to become cloudy, obstructing vision. Read more about cataracts here.
Annual Eye Exams Are an Important Diagnostic Tool
While it is advised that all adults get eye exams every one or two years, people with diabetes should ensure they receive eye exams annually. Complications from diabetes can present themselves in the form of serious eye diseases, and diligence and thoroughness in testing is required in order to ensure you are on top of your eye health.