Diabetes and the Eye

Brunette woman having an eye exam The doctors at Broberg Eye Care can help you understand the connection between diabetes and the eye. Patients with diabetes are more likely to experience vision problems, so undergoing regular eye exams is particularly important for patients who suffer from this condition. During these appointments, Dr. Peter Broberg, Dr. Halsey Settle, Dr. William McGlathery, or Dr. Ximena de Sabra will inspect your eyes for signs of disease and make recommendations about how to preserve your vision and ocular health. Contact our office today to learn more about the relationship between diabetes and the eye and schedule an appointment at our Austin, TX practice.

How Does Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?

Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder affecting over 29 million Americans, often increases patients’ blood sugar levels. This can cause poor circulation, inflammation, and irregular blood vessel development. The eyes are especially vulnerable to these changes, which is why diabetic patients are at higher risk for blindness than those who do not suffer from this disease. To combat their increased probability of ocular complications, patients with diabetes should be especially conscientious about attending routine ophthalmological appointments and try to control their blood sugar and blood pressure levels as much as possible.

Diabetic Diagnoses

Unfortunately, many of the ocular complications that can result from diabetes have minimal or no symptoms until they become a major problem. Our doctors recommend that patients with diabetes come in for routine exams once a year at minimum so that we can detect any disorders before they become more difficult to treat. At these appointments, our ophthalmologists will check your visual acuity, assess your peripheral vision, and perform a dilated eye exam to evaluate your retina for any irregularities. To get a detailed look at your ocular structure, we use optical coherence tomography, which creates a 3D map of your eye. We may also measure your intraocular pressure using tonometry or use a slit lamp to check for clouding in your eyes.

In addition, you should contact our office for an appointment immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Ocular discomfort or pain
  • Persistent redness
  • Flashers or floaters in your field of vision
  • Loss of peripheral eyesight
  • Dyplopia (double vision)
  • Hazy or blurry vision
  • Rapidly changing optometric prescription
  • Headache or nausea from increased eye pressure

Patients with diabetes who are pregnant or currently smoke are at even higher risk for ocular disorders, so they should be especially aware of any changes in their vision.

Common Conditions

The most common ocular complications resulting from diabetes are:

  • Diabetic retinopathy, in which the blood vessels in the retina weaken, swell, or begin to grow abnormally, causing blurriness, spots, partial vision loss, or even blindness.
  • Cataracts, clouds of proteins in your lenses that obscure your vision. Excess blood sugar can speed up the accumulation of debris in the lens, meaning that diabetic patients often develop cataracts at a younger age and more rapidly.
  • Glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve from heightened intraocular pressure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can exacerbate this condition. Damaged blood vessels can also contribute to glaucoma.

Learn More about Diabetes and the Eye

To learn more about ocular complications from diabetes or schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact our office today.

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