How Diabetes Affects the Eyes
The major aim of treatment in people with diabetes is to avoid the development of complications. Diabetes has a way of causing damage to several internal systems, including the heart, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels, and the eyes. This damage takes place over a period of time and, without regular medical checkups, it is impossible to know that the damage is taking place. For this reason, a regular visit to the ophthalmologist will help to prevent what is known as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes affects the eyes in a number of ways. When a person has diabetes, it means that either the body is not supplying enough insulin to the blood or it cannot process the insulin that is being supplied. What this results in is the inability of the arteries, which carry the blood vessels, to function as they should. Blood vessels can be damaged by diabetes. When the damage begins, the eye is one of the first areas that get affected, because the retina relies on several blood vessels for blood. When this happens, diabetic retinopathy is said to have occurred.
Those who are most at risk of diabetic retinopathy are often those who have had diabetes for a long time. This category of people will most probably develop some form of diabetic retinopathy at some stage. Certain ethnic groups are also at risk of developing this, although there are some studies that show that this is mostly a result of social factors.
It is possible to reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy, and this can be done through some lifestyle changes. For the most part, the main key to reducing the risk is control. It is important to control the blood sugar, the cholesterol levels and the blood pressure. This can be done by eating a healthy diet, reducing the levels of sodium intake and maintaining a healthy lifestyle by incorporating physical activity. Also, a person with diabetes needs to quit smoking, as this affects the blood pressure and the blood sugar levels. It is also important to have regular retinal screening, which helps with early detection. These tips can also help to halt the progression of already diagnosed diabetic retinopathy.
Another way in which diabetes can affect the eyes is by the development of cataracts. This occurs when the lens of the eye becomes blurry or foggy and difficult to see from. This often leads to impaired vision and is treated by surgery to replace the lens. After surgery, glasses or contact lenses are usually prescribed to correct the damage.
Apart from cataracts, people with diabetes are also at risk of getting glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that works on the optic nerve. This is when the fluid in the eye does not drain as it should and builds pressure that damages the eye and could lead to irreparable loss of vision. It is supposed to be the second leading cause of blindness. Because glaucoma does not show any symptoms often until it is very advanced, it is essential to have a regular glaucoma screening. But with a healthy lifestyle and regular eye checks, the damaging effects of diabetes on the eyes can be halted, or at least stalled.
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