7 Facts About Vision Loss Due to Diabetes
Diabetes is a common cause of vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. In fact, diabetics are 40% more likely to have glaucoma, and 60% more likely to have cataracts, per the American Diabetes Association. If left unchecked, vision loss due to diabetes is irreversible. The National Eye Institute (NEI), however, states that early detection and treatment can reduce one’s risk of blindness by 95%. Here are seven facts about diabetes-related vision loss:
Diabetes Damages the Retina
When light passes through the eye, it hits a layer of tissue called the retina. Cells here are sensitive to light and pass it on to the optic nerve. The retina has small blood vessels that can be damaged by chronically high blood sugar levels or high blood pressure. Diabetic retinopathy is when these vessels start to leak, or hemorrhage, distorting one’s vision.
There are four stages of this condition:
Mild non-proliferative retinopathy: Micro aneurysms in the retina cause some fluid to leak out of small vessels.
Moderate non-proliferative retinopathy: A swelling and distortion of the retina’s blood vessels, which may disrupt blood flow in the retina.
Severe non-proliferative retinopathy: Many blood vessels are blocked, depriving the retina of blood, and triggering the release of growth factors.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: New vessels grow along the inside of the retina and into the fluid within the eye; they’re more prone to leak, and scar tissue may form, causing the retina to detach from the underlying eye tissue. This can cause a permanent loss of vision.