Diabetes And Diabetic Retinopathy: Q&a
Q&A Menu To find the Q&As most helpful to you, please click on one of these subjects: How Does Diabetes Affect Eyes? Q: How does diabetes affect your eyes? — L.L., Connecticut A: Diabetes causes problems in the retina with what are collectively called microvascular abnormalities. The small blood vessels develop microaneurysms and leak blood. New blood vessel growth (neovascularization) occurs. Unfortunately, these blood vessels are weak and also leak. These leaks (hemorrhages) can cause irreversible damage to the retina and permanent vision loss. Patients with controlled diabetes do better than those with uncontrolled diabetes. However, even a person whose diabetes is under perfect control can still develop diabetic retinopathy — hence, the need for yearly retinal exams. — Dr. Slonim Q: Does diabetic retinopathy get progressively worse? — F.R. A: Yes. When left unrecognized and untreated, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and eventually lead to blindness. Diabetic retinopathy can even get worse despite use of the best treatments that currently exist for it. — Dr. Slonim Q: My father has type 2 diabetes and he is seeing double. We went to the hospital about a week ago and they said the diabetes had affected a nerve on the right eye. Can medicine get his sight back to normal? — W.C. A: Diabetes can affect any one of the three cranial nerves that are responsible for movement of the eyes. Diabetes is one of the more common conditions associated with sixth nerve (Abducens nerve) palsies. Paralysis of this nerve affects the lateral rectus muscle that allows the eye to look outward. There is no specific medicine for this. The paralysis can be temporary and last a few months or it can be permanent. — Dr. Slonim Q: Can diabetes cause you to have eye infections suc Continue reading >>
Diabetic Eye Disease: Diagnosis, Causes, And Symptoms
By Debra A. Sokol-McKay, MS, CVRT, CDE, CLVT, OTR/L, SCLV Diagnosing Diabetic Eye Disease How Diabetes Affects the Eyes and Vision: Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Examination Guidelines Diagnosing Diabetic Eye Disease Diabetic retinopathy usually has no early warning signs. It can be detected only through a comprehensive eye examination that looks for early signs of the disease, including: Leaking blood vessels Macular edema (swelling) Pale, fatty deposits on the retina Damaged nerve tissue Any changes to the retinal blood vessels To diagnose diabetic eye disease effectively, eye care specialists recommend a comprehensive diabetic eye examination that includes the following procedures: Distance and near vision acuity tests A dilated eye (or fundus) examination, which includes the use of an ophthalmoscope. In a dilated eye examination, it is the pupil that is dilated—not the entire eye. This allows the examiner to see through the pupil to the retina. Visual acuity tests alone are not sufficient to detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages. A tonometry test to measure fluid pressure inside the eye. A fluorescein angiography test, if more serious retinal changes, such as macular edema, are suspected. Fluorescein angiography is an eye test that uses a special dye and camera to look at blood flow in the retina. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) testing may be used to gain a clearer picture of the retina and its supporting layers. OCT is a type of medical imaging technology that produces high-resolution cross-sectional and three-dimensional images of the eye. Also, an Amsler Grid test can detect early and sometimes subtle visual changes in a variety of macular diseases, including diabetic macular edema. The first image below shows an Amsler Grid as seen with unimpaired vis Continue reading >>
Diabetes And Eye Problems
Tweet Diabetic retinopathy is the most common form of eye problem affecting people with diabetes, but further diabetes-related eye problems are common - such as glaucoma and cataracts. Both glaucoma and cataracts can have a serious influence on vision. Diabetic eye disease is a term that encompasses a range of eye problems. At their most extreme, each of these conditions can cause loss of vision and even blindness but treatments can help to reduce the risk of this happening. People with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from cataracts or glaucoma than the general population.  Which eye problems are commonly associated with diabetes? Retinopathy is the most common form of eye problem in people with diabetes. Large research studies, such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial published in 1993, show that risk of developing retinopathy increases with higher HbA1c values, higher blood pressure and increasing duration of having had diabetes. Diabetes eye problems occur when blood glucose levels are left untreated, or may be hereditary and exacerbated by diabetes (such as cataracts and glaucoma). A simple visit to an ophthalmologist could help to stop thousands of people each year from going blind, this is why people with diabetes should have a dilated eye examination at least once per year. Does diabetic eye disease treatment reverse vision damage? Major studies have shown that laser surgery lowers the risk of vision loss from diabetic eye disease. However, once diabetic eye problems have damaged the vision laser treatment is not effective in reversing damage. What is the relationship between blood sugar control and diabetes eye problems? Diabetes eye problems are directly linked to blood sugar control. Consistent control of blood glucose reduces the develop Continue reading >>
Diabetic Retinopathy And Diabetic Eye Problems
Professional Reference articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use. You may find the Pre-diabetes (Impaired Glucose Tolerance) article more useful, or one of our other health articles. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a chronic progressive, potentially sight-threatening disease of the retinal microvasculature, associated with the prolonged hyperglycaemia of diabetes mellitus and with other diabetes mellitus-linked conditions, such as hypertension. Diabetes mellitus can cause a variety of eye problems, the most common being DR, which is the most common cause of severe sight impairment among people of working age in England, Wales and Scotland. Other conditions associated with diabetes and the eye include: Cataracts. Rubeosis iridis and glaucoma. Ocular motor nerve palsies. Diabetic retinopathy The exact mechanism by which diabetes leads to DR is not fully understood. Microvascular occlusion causes retinal ischaemia leading to arteriovenous shunts and neovascularisation. Leakage results in intraretinal haemorrhages and localised or diffuse oedema. These processes result in the characteristic features seen at various stages of DR: Microaneurysms - physical weakening of the capillary walls which predisposes them to leakages. Hard exudates - precipitates of lipoproteins/other proteins leaking from retinal blood vessels. Haemorrhages - rupture of weakened capillaries, appearing as small dots/larger blots or 'flame' haemorrhages that track along nerve-fibre bundles in superficial retinal layers (the haemorrhage arises from larger and more superficial arterioles). Cotton wool spots - build-up of axonal debris due to poor axonal metabolism at the margins of ischaemic infarcts. Continue reading >>
Eye Conditions Related To Diabetes
Diabetes can affect your eyes in a number of ways. The most serious eye condition related to Diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. Early diagnosis is vital. Most sight-threatening diabetic problems can be managed if treatment is carried out early enough. Looking after your Diabetes and regular retinal screening can help to reduce your risk of developing the eye conditions related to Diabetes. We’ve produced a downloadable guide that will give you an in-depth understanding of Diabetes related eye conditions as well as advice on coping with the conditions. Diabetic retinopathy The most serious eye condition associated with Diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. It occurs when the tiny blood vessels at the back of your eye become blocked and leak. There are different types of diabetic retinopathy - Background diabetic retinopathy: Background retinopathy does not usually affect your sight, but your eyes will need to be monitored carefully to make sure your retinopathy doesn’t become worse. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: If background retinopathy gets worse, many of the retinal blood vessels become damaged or blocked. When these changes affect a large area of your retina, blood supply to the retina is reduced. The body tries to fix this by growing new blood vessels on the retinal surface or into the vitreous gel. Unfortunately, these new vessels are weak and they bleed very easily, which may affect your vision. Diabetic maculopathy: When your macula (the central part of your retina) is affected by your retinopathy, you are said to have diabetic maculopathy. This means that your central vision, which is required for seeing fine detail and colour, will be blurred. You can get a more in-depth look at the different types and associated treatments in our Understanding diabetes gu Continue reading >>
Eye Problems And Diabetes
Eye problems and diabetes introduction If you have diabetes, regular visits to your ophthalmologist for eye exams are important to avoid eye problems. High blood sugar (glucose) increases the risk of diabetes eye problems. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20 to 74. If you have eye problems and diabetes, don't buy a new pair of glasses as soon as you notice you have blurred vision. It could just be a temporary eye problem that develops rapidly with diabetes and is caused by high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar in diabetes causes the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your ability to see. To correct this kind of eye problem, you need to get your blood sugar back into the target range (90-130 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL one to two hours after a meal). It may take as long as three months after your blood sugar is well controlled for your vision to fully get back to normal. Blurred vision can also be a symptom of more serious eye problem with diabetes. The three major eye problems that people with diabetes may develop and should be aware of are cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens is what allows us to see and focus on an image just like a camera. Although anyone can get cataracts, people with diabetes get these eye problems at an earlier age than most and the condition progresses more rapidly than in people without diabetes. If you have a cataract, there is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye that results in the inability to focus light, and your vision is impaired. Symptoms of this eye problem in diabetes include blurred or glared vision. During cataract surgery, the cloudy lens is removed or cleaned ou Continue reading >>
Blurry Vision And Diabetes: What's The Connection?
Blurry vision is being unable to see the fine details. Another way of describing it is seeing a lack of sharpness. Blurred eyesight is similar to seeing things as if they are in the out-of-focus parts of a photograph. The blurriness can be subtle or obvious, can change through the day, and can come on slowly or quickly. It depends on the cause. Diabetes can cause blurry vision for a variety of reasons. Both short-term and long-term complications can affect the vision of someone with diabetes. Contents of this article: How does diabetes affect the eyes? Long-term uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels that cause damage to small blood vessels over time. This damage can lead to problems with part of the eye called the retina which can create blurred vision. Short-term blurriness in people with diabetes is due to a different cause. Fluid shifts into and out of the eye due to high blood sugar levels, causing the lens of the eye to swell. This change in its shape causes blurriness as the lens is the part that focuses light onto the back of the eye. This short-term issue will resolve once blood sugar levels are lowered. Can diabetes treatment cause blurriness? Diabetes can also cause short-term blurriness if blood sugar levels fall too low (hypoglycemia). This can happen due to the timing of food or a change in activity levels in people who take medication that increases insulin in the body. Rather than being caused by changes in the eye, blurriness from low blood sugars is caused by the effects of hypoglycemia on the brain. Vision affected in this way will return to normal after glucose levels return to normal. Is blurry vision with diabetes temporary? As stated above, blurry vision can be caused by both short-term and long-term complications of diabetes. L Continue reading >>
What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
People with diabetes can have an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak. Or they can close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina. All of these changes can steal your vision. Stages of diabetic eye disease There are two main stages of diabetic eye disease. NPDR (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy) This is the early stage of diabetic eye disease. Many people with diabetes have it. With NPDR, tiny blood vessels leak, making the retina swell. When the macula swells, it is called macular edema. This is the most common reason why people with diabetes lose their vision. Also with NPDR, blood vessels in the retina can close off. This is called macular ischemia. When that happens, blood cannot reach the macula. Sometimes tiny particles called exudates can form in the retina. These can affect your vision too. If you have NPDR, your vision will be blurry. PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy) PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease. It happens when the retina starts growing new blood vessels. This is called neovascularization. These fragile new vessels often bleed into the vitreous. If they only bleed a little, you might see a few dark floaters. If they bleed a lot, it might block all vision. These new blood vessels can form scar tissue. Scar tissue can cause problems with the macula or lead to a detached retina. PDR is very serious, and can steal both your central and peripheral (side) vision. Continue reading >>
Diabetes And Eye Disease
Diabetes can harm the eyes. It can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, the back part of your eye. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases the chance of having glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems. Alternative Names Retinopathy - diabetic; Photocoagulation - retina; Diabetic retinopathy Causes Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage from diabetes to blood vessels of the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. It changes light and images that enter the eye into nerve signals, which are sent to the brain. Diabetic retinopathy is a main cause of decreased vision or blindness in Americans 20 to 74 years old. People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk of this condition. This animation depicts changes to the retina resulting from diabetes mellitus. The chance of developing retinopathy and having a more severe form is higher when: You have had diabetes for a long time Your blood sugar (glucose) has been poorly controlled You also smoke or you have high blood pressure If you already have damage to the blood vessels in your eye, some types of exercise can make the problem worse. Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Other eye problems that can occur in people with diabetes include: Glaucoma. Increased pressure in the eye that can lead to blindness. Macular edema. Blurry vision due to fluid leaking into the area of the retina that provides sharp central vision. Retinal detachment. Scarring that may cause part of the retina to pull away from the back of your eyeball. High blood sugar or rapid changes in blood sugar level often cause blurred vision. This is because the lens in the middle of the eye cannot change shape when it has too much sugar and water in the Continue reading >>
Overview Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated. However, it usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight. To minimise the risk of this happening, people with diabetes should: ensure they control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol attend diabetic eye screening appointments – annual screening is offered to all people with diabetes aged 12 and over to pick up and treat any problems early on How diabetes can affect the eyes The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical signals. The signals are sent to the brain and the brain turns them into the images you see. The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, a persistently high blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels in three main stages: tiny bulges develop in the blood vessels, which may bleed slightly but don’t usually affect your vision – this is known as background retinopathy more severe and widespread changes affect the blood vessels, including more significant bleeding into the eye – this is known as pre-proliferative retinopathy scar tissue and new blood vessels, which are weak and bleed easily, develop on the retina – this is known as proliferative retinopathy and it can result in some loss of vision However, if a problem with your eyes is picked up early, lifestyle changes and/or treatment can stop it getting worse. Read about the stages of diabetic retinopathy. Am I at risk of diabetic retinopathy? Anyone with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes i Continue reading >>
Glaucoma And Diabetes: Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?
People with diabetes are twice as likely to be at risk of having glaucoma compared to people without diabetes. We will first look at how the eye works, what glaucoma is, followed by the relationship between glaucoma and diabetes. Clara’s story Clara’s eyes were feeling tired all of the time. She was attributing the tiredness to her Type 2 diabetes, but she wasn’t too sure about it. That’s why she contacted TheDiabetesCouncil to raise her concerns about the increasing pressure in her eyes. Her left eye had suddenly become red, and she was experiencing sharp pain in her eyes. She had somewhat of a headache, too. After hearing about Clara’s symptoms, she was advised to see her eye doctor for an examination, as glaucoma was suspected. Clara got in touch with us to report that she had been to her ophthalmologist, and she had been diagnosed with the most common type of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma. She was using some drops in both eyes, and she relayed that she was feeling better, and that the pain in her eye and other symptoms have subsided. To help others in Clara’s situation, we have written this comprehensive guide about glaucoma and diabetes. How does the eye work? If you want to understand eye diseases, specifically glaucoma, it’s important to understand how the eye operates. It’s an incredible, wonderful organ! Without our eyes, we could not see the world around us. The eye is a spherically shaped organ that has a tough outer surface. The covering in the front of the eye is curvy. This covering is called the cornea. The cornea is responsible for focusing light. It also serves to protect the eye. Light makes its way through the eye by way of the anterior chamber. In this chamber, there is fluid called aqueous humor that the light travels through. Light Continue reading >>
How Does Diabetes Affect The Eye And The Vision?
Diabetes has always been known to cause quite a few complications if not managed in time. An unmanaged and uncontrolled diabetes tends to affect the eye, liver, kidney and more in the long run. As such, we will be looking into one such complication arising out of diabetes for our today’s entry as part of our informative series on diabetes. We’ll be having a keen look into the Diabetic Retinopathy and shall deal with its causes, symptoms and the treatment module for it. Diabetic eye problems are closely related as unmanaged diabetes will give way to a host of eye disorders. Diabetic is known to cause different eye related issues often known by as the diabetic eye disease. An untreated instance of such diabetic eye disease can cause complication, in the long run, even pertaining to blindness on some cases. The most common of the eye problem as a result of diabetes is the diabetic retinopathy which affects the retina of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy when untreated for long can cause diabetic macular edema further on. Diabetes causes a rise in the blood glucose levels and in the blood pressure levels. Such elevated levels of blood glucose cause the nerves of the retina to get affected. As when the nerves of the retina are affected along, blood vessels may cause leaks with floating spots around. This, in turn, leads to affecting the vision of the eye. Furthermore, such effect of the blood glucose levels causes the optic nerve, the nerve which transports the light to the brain of which it creates an image for us gets damaged. That in itself affects the vision of the eye and may lead to impairment or hemorrhage. What is Diabetic Eye Disease? Diabetic Eye Disease refers to a group of eye-related issues seen by in people suffering from diabetes. There are four sub-types of t Continue reading >>
Diabetes And Your Eyesight
Diabetes is a complex disease resulting from the inability of the body to produce insulin, a hormone that takes sugar out of the blood and into cells where it can be used for energy. Without enough insulin, there is too much sugar in your blood. It’s like having a car full of gas but no key; you have the fuel you need, but can’t start using it. Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans. The most common form of diabetes is adult-onset diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes typically strikes those who are over 40, overweight and have a sedentary lifestyle. Other risk factors include those with a family history of diabetes and those belonging to certain ethnic groups. Persons of African, Native American, Japanese, Latino or Polynesian descent are more at risk. Diabetic Eye Disease A common complication of diabetes is diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of sight-threatening eye problems that people with diabetes may develop. Glaucoma is one of these diseases. Diabetic eye disease also includes diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy, a disease which damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye) is the most common diabetic eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy affects nearly 7.7 million Americans age 40 and older. A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that results in blurring of normal vision. People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop cataracts as other adults. Cataracts also tend to develop at an earlier age. Diabetes and Glaucoma The relationship between diabetes and open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma), has intrigued researchers for years. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as are non-diabetics, although som Continue reading >>
Eye Problems & Diabetes
The three major eye problems that people with diabetes need to be aware of are cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. To prevent eye problems, you should: Control your blood glucose. Have your eyes checked at least once a year by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). Control high blood pressure and lipids. Contact your doctor if any of the following occur: Black spots in your vision Flashes of light "Holes" in your vision Blurred vision Cataracts A cataract is a clouding or fogging of the lens inside the eye. When this happens, light cannot enter the eye and vision is impaired. Blurred vision Glared vision Treatment Surgery followed by glasses, contact lenses, or lens implant Glaucoma Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve (the "cable" that connects the eye to the brain and transmits light impulses to the brain). If the pressure inside the eye builds up, it can cause damage to this optic nerve. While most often there are NO symptoms from glaucoma, the following symptoms might occur: Loss of vision or visual field Headaches Eye aches (pain) Halos around lights Blurred vision Watering eyes Treatment Special eye drops Laser therapy Medication Surgery Prevention Have your eye doctor screen for glaucoma annually. Retinopathy Problems with the retina are called diabetic retinopathy. Problems develop as a result of fluid leaking from blood vessels into the eye or abnormal blood vessels formed in the eye. In either case, vision can be affected. If retinopathy is not found early or is not treated, blindness can occur. Sometimes there are no symptoms of retinopathy, but two common symptoms are: Blurred vision Spots or lines in your vision Laser therapy Surgery Injections into eye (advanced retinopathy) Have your eye doctor screen for retinopathy annually. Women with preexisting d Continue reading >>
Eye Changes When You Come Down With Diabetes
by John Walsh, P.A., C.D.E., Ruth Roberts, M.A. Changes in vision may happen at the time that diabetes is first diagnosed or at any time that blood sugar control is poor. Fluctuating blood sugars cause the lens to swell and shrink, and result in fluctuating vision. Many times, people who have "borderline" diabetes finally decide to take their diabetes seriously when their vision becomes blurred. Sometimes, people coming down with diabetes marvel that they no longer need their glasses to see in the distance. But as insulin or other therapy is begun and the blood sugar drops, the abnormal swelling diminishes. In the short-term vision becomes blurred and is not corrected by their prescription lenses. Either of these scenarios can be frightening to people who have heard of the severe eye damage that goes along with diabetes. Blurred vision in both eyes when insulin or other treatment begins is almost never caused by damage to the eye. Rather, it results from the speed at which the swelling, due to high blood sugars in the previous weeks and months, dissipates from the lens. Vision is usually out of sync for 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes with an accompanying headache. After a visit to the physician to confirm that the abnormal vision is actually a temporary problem caused by lowering the blood sugars, a common treatment is to visit the reading glasses section in a large pharmacy. There, the person tries on different strengths of "reading glasses" until he finds one that allows him to see clearly at distances. As the days pass, a weaker version may be needed until eventually his own prescription lenses again work. Never buy prescription lenses during any period of uncontrolled blood sugars. These lenses are unlikely to work once the blood sugar is normalized. These vision changes a Continue reading >>