Diabetes is a chronic disease that prevents the body from making or using insulin.

As a result the blood sugar levels are abnormal, and when it is not well controlled that leads to changes in the small blood vessels and nerves in the whole body. When that situation happens in the eye, it is called diabetic retinopathy, since the blood vessels in the retina are the ones affected. That results in blood leakage and growing of new vessels, among other changes. Blindness can the the final outcome if this condition is left untreated. And it can affect people with type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Symptoms

Initially there are no symptoms, and many times diabetes can be diagnosed during a regular eye examination when changes in the retina are seen by the optometrist.

But diabetes and its complications can affect any part of the eye… prescription changes, eye focusing issues, glaucoma, cataracts, nerve paralysis, decrease of eye sensitivity, double vision, flashes and floaters, etc.

Treatment

In mild cases only monitoring is needed. When the situation gets worse, it may need eye injections, laser treatment, or surgery. Detecting changes earlier as possible is the best options to minimize complications.

Prevention

Having the blood sugar levels well controlled is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy as well as any other complications related to diabetes in the rest of the body.

Checking your eyes yearly (or more often if indicated) can help to detect changes at early stages. Patients have to do regular checks with their physician, to check on medication, diet and exercise too.