Keeping an Eye on your Diabetes

Optical Health

Tammy George

Losing your eyesight is one of the biggest concerns for many people living with diabetes. Eye problems and reduced sight can have a severe impact on quality of life so looking after your eyes is an important part of managing your diabetes.

Connection Between Diabetes & Eye Diseases

High blood sugar levels can change the shape of the eye due to the lens of the eye swelling. The altered shape can cause blurred vision, glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy.

Blurred Vision - Ongoing blurriness can occur when blood sugar levels are elevated causing the eyes' lens to swell. After months of regular blood sugar levels, vision can return to normal. Temporary blurred vision can also occur after a high carbohydrate meal due to high sugar levels.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can cause blurred or double vision. Temporary blurred vision can occur after a high carbohydrate meal due to high sugar levels.

Glaucoma – can affect anyone but someone with diabetes is 40% more likely to contract it than someone who doesn’t have diabetes. Increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve causing vision loss.

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Cataracts – a person with diabetes is 60% more likely to suffer from cataracts and experience a faster progression than someone that doesn’t have diabetes. The lens of the eye becomes cloudy and impairs vision.

Retinopathy - occurs when blood vessels that supply the retina are restricted and damaged due to high blood sugar.

Seek Professional Medical Advice

It’s not possible to monitor your eye health. Not all eye diseases and problems have symptoms until the irreversible damage is done to your eyes. Find an optometrist that you can visit on a regular basis. Attending regular optometrist appointments can help prevent diabetic eye disease. Your optometrist will be able to keep a check on any changes with your eyes in the short and long term.

But don’t wait for next appointment, visit your GP or optometrist urgently if you experience any of the following:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Black spots
  • Eye pain
  • Flashes of light
  • Any sudden change in vision

Be sure to tell your optometrist of any changes in your diabetes or management plan as this will help with monitoring your eye health.   

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Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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