Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes: Six Eye Problems That Are A Sign Of High Blood Sugar
Diabetic retinopathy may start with barely noticeable symptoms, but as the damage progresses, visual clues will appear. If left untreated, blindness can occur, so is it time for you to see an eye doctor? Damaged blood vessels cause the retina – the “seeing” part of the eye – not getting the blood supply it needs to function optimally. The Diabetes UK charity has listed the stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Background retinopathy
- Nonproliferative retinopathy
- Proliferative retinopathy
- Diabetic maculopathy
Background retinopathy means that sight is not (yet) affected, but if blood sugar continues to rise, the disease will move on to the next stage.
As symptoms appear, the Mayo Clinic has pointed out that “dark or empty areas” may develop in your vision.
High blood sugar can also cause “blurred vision”, “impaired color vision” and “fluctuating vision”.
People with this complication of diabetes may also see “floaters,” which are dark threads or spots floating in their vision.
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Six eye problems that are a sign of high blood sugar:
- Dark spots or strings floating in your vision (floaters)
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Impaired color vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Loss of vision
- Nonproliferative retinopathy
The Mayo Clinic explained that this stage of diabetic retinopathy indicates that new blood vessels are not forming at the back of the eye.
At this stage of the complication of diabetes, the walls of the blood vessels in the retina weaken.
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Tiny swellings (known as microaneurysms) protrude from the walls of the vessels, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina.
Over time, the nerve fibers in the retina may start to swell, which is called macular edema.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy
Damaged blood vessels block the blood supply to the retina, so new, abnormal blood vessels start to develop.
These abnormal blood vessels can seep into the clear, gelatinous substance that fills the center of the eyes.
Scar tissue begins to form, which can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye.
“If the new blood vessels interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, pressure can build up in the eyeball,” the Mayo Clinic explained.
This can lead to nerve damage, disrupting the message sent from the eye to the brain (i.e. glaucoma).
Glaucoma can lead to blindness, which is why it is essential to make an appointment with the optician at least every two years.
Regular eye exams – performed by an optometrist – and good blood sugar control can help prevent diabetic retinopathy.
How can I manage my diabetes?
In order to prevent high blood sugar, the NHS recommends exercising more often.
It could be as simple as taking more walks, whether it be in stores, the post office, or a local supermarket.
It will also help to drink “lots of fluids without sugar,” such as unsweetened tea and water.