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How Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Did you know that November is diabetes awareness month? There are millions of Canadians who live with the disease and millions more who are undiagnosed diabetics! The number of people who are affected by this disease is staggering. That’s why diabetes Awareness month is so important and why we’ve dedicated this weeks blog article on the topic. So, just how does diabetes affect the eyes? Read on to learn more!

What Is Diabetes And Does Diabetes Affect The Eyes?

Diabetes is a disease which hinders the body in regulating the hormone insulin. Our pancreas is responsible for insulin production. It helps turn sugar (glucose) into energy. Because diabetes is a metabolic disease, it can cause damage to almost all of the body. Especially if gone untreated. There are so many complications from diabetes. Some parts of the body are affected more than others. The eyes are one such area which can suffer damage from diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy is the medical name for this condition.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the eyes as a result of diabetes. The key characteristic is leakage of blood from tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye. This happens as a result of the weakening and swelling of the blood vessels. Undiagnosed and untreated diabetic retinopathy is very serious as it can result in vision loss and even blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

There are many different ways how diabetes affect the eyes. In the early stages, symptoms are unnoticeable. Often, people are flagged as diabetics as a result of what the optometrist finds during an eye exam. That is why it is important for everyone, not only diabetics to have the health of their eyes evaluated by an optometrist, routinely. 
For patients who have progressed stages of diabetic retinopathy, they may notice the following symptoms.
  • Changes in vision (both near and far distances)
  • Double vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Flashing Lights
  • Floaters
  • Blurred vision

If you have any of the above symptoms, even if you are not a diabetic you should seek immediate medical attention.

What Should I Do If I’m A Diabetic?

For Diabetics, the best thing they can do is be proactive and have their vision and health of their eyes checked annually. An optometrist will evaluate and monitor your eye health for any problems related to diabetes. Along with regular eye exams, diabetics should also follow any recommendations from their doctor to help manage their disease. This often includes changes in diet, exercise and taking medications.

At the Glenmore Landing Vision Center, we want all patients to maintain their health. Prevention is key. That is why it’s important to have routine eye exams. If you are in need of an eye exam, conveniently book your next appointment online. Or call (403)255-2826 during regular business hours to book your next appointment.

Article was written by Trina Vanaalst, licensed optician and registered contact lens practitioner.

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