Diabetes can affect vision in many ways (changes in vision, double vision, diabetic retinopathy, etc.). It is necessary to have your eyes checked regularly to be able to treat the symptoms effectively.
1 million Canadians live with undiagnosed diabetes.
500,000 Canadians suffer from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes can cause changes in myopia, farsightedness or presbyopia. It also increases the risk of developing cataracts or glaucoma. However, diabetic retinopathy is the most common and serious eye condition associated with diabetes.
Some symptoms to watch out for:
- Blurred or fluctuating vision.
- Occasional double vision.
- Loss of visual field.
- Glare, flashes of light in the visual field.
- Appearances of floaters or holes in the visual field.
- Inability to distinguish colors.
- Loss of central vision.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy affects 23% of people with type I diabetes and 14% of people with type II diabetes. This represents approximately 500,000 Canadians affected by diabetic retinopathy.
This disease due to diabetes, results from the weakening of the blood vessels of the retina. When blood sugar is too high for too long, it causes blockage of the blood vessels that keep the retina healthy.
Diabetic retinopathy can be asymptomatic or manifest as minor vision problems. It can also have more significant symptoms (cited above) and lead to blindness.
- Poor blood sugar control.
- High cholesterol level.
- High blood pressure.
- Duration of diabetes.
- Monitor and control diabetes.
- Check in with your doctor regularly and follow the guidelines for diet, exercise and your medication.
- Do eye exams according to the frequencies recommended by your optometrist or doctor.
A thorough eye examination performed by an optometrist can help detect diabetes early even before the disease is diagnosed. This reduces the risk of visual loss and decreases the risk of other diabetes-related complications such as heart disease and kidney failure.
In the early stage of diabetic retinopathy, blood sugar and blood pressure monitoring is recommended.
When the disease progresses, your doctor may prescribe injections, or laser treatment, or surgery.
The earlier the disease is detected, the easier it is to treat it and limit its progression, hence the importance of frequent visits to your doctor and optometrist.