What kind of eye problems can diabetes cause? High blood sugar and eyesight

High blood sugar and eyesight

Blurred vision is one of the symptoms of long term, out of control diabetes. After the diabetes is diagnosed and brought under control, vision usually returns to normal. When a diabetic suddenly has blurred vision or other strange visual happenings (June sometimes reports seeing a large spot of light in her field of vision), this can indicate low blood sugar.

Because of the visual changes that can take place with changes in blood sugar, June's ophthalmologist always insists that she have normal blood sugar when she comes in to have her eyes checked to see if she needs new glasses. The changes in vision you may have with low blood sugar can be disturbing, but they don't mean you're going blind. Blindness is always a worry for diabetics because you hear so many horrendous statistics about it. Diabetes is the cause of eleven percent of the legally blind people in this country, making it the third leading cause of blindness. It is the number one cause of new cases of blindness.

The culprit in diabetic blindness is retinopathy. This is a damaging of the blood vessels in the retina, the light sensitive area in the back of the eye. In its later stages the delicate blood vessels of the retina may develop tiny sacs that can burst and leak blood, causing a loss of vision.

This is one of the reasons your doctor always examines your eyes so carefully: to look for changes in your blood vessels. The retina is the one place in the human body where doctors can actually see and inspect the condition of the blood vessels. Not only is weakness in the walls of the retinal blood vessels bad news in itself, but the condition of these blood vessels reflects the condition of the vessels throughout the body. You see, eyes are not just the mirrors of the soul as the poets say, but the mirrors of the body as well.

Retinopathy is another one of the list of diabetic horribles that don't have to happen. More and more it is being shown that good blood sugar control can prevent retinopathy. In a study of 451 patients at the Joslin Clinic, only three percent of well controlled diabetics developed retinopathy while thirtyone percent of the poorly controlled ones did. Another indication of the intimate relation between blood sugar control and retinopathy is that the Joslin Clinic discovered that those who take only one shot of insulin a day are six times more likely to have retinopathy than those on multiple injections.

Even when retinopathy does develop, all is not lost. There has been a great deal of success in treating it with laser beams. As always, however, the best treatment is to keep your
 normal and not develop the problem in the first place.

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