Diabetes can cause many eye conditions and diseases that may lead to blindness. Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina. When the diabetes becomes uncontrolled, it affects the eye lens, causing blurry vision. Diabetes can also cause cataract and glaucoma.
Not all diabetic patients have eye complications. Some patients have mild retinopathy that may not worsen to a threatening situation. Some effects of diabetes on eyes are as follows.
Effects of Diabetes on Eyes
The most serious effects of diabetes on eyes include diabetic retinopathy. In this condition, there is blockage or leakage in the eye blood vessels. This causes adverse effect on the retina and vision. In diabetic retinopathy, the patient can have blurry or double vision. If the patient feels flashing lights, it is an indication of retinal detachment. If the patient feels cloudy or reddish streaks or floating spots, it means that there is bleeding. Sometimes, the patient may see blank spots. Diabetic retinopathy can cause fluctuating vision and decreased depth perception.
Retinopathy is of many types including background, maculopathy and proliferative types of diabetic retinopathy. The early stage of retinopathy is the background diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, there is formation of dot like hemorrhages due to weakness and leakage of arteries situated in the retina.
Due to leakage, the retina becomes swollen and there is edema. This leads to low vision. The next stage is the proliferative diabetic retinopathy, in which there is circulation problem. Due to this, oxygen cannot reach the retina and it becomes ischemic. There is development of new vessels in which there is easy hemorrhage. The leakage of blood causes spots and floaters. In the later stage of retinopathy, there is abnormal vessel growth. Due to this, there is retinal detachment.
The next condition is cataract, which occurs due to effects of diabetes on eyes. In this condition, there is cloudiness in the eye lens and the vision becomes blurry.
The light does not pass through the eyes. The cloudy lens can be removed with surgery and is replaced with a plastic lens. Replacement of the eye lens causes proper focusing of the eye. The patient must have the regular eye checkups done to monitor the formation of cataract.
Glaucoma occurs due to effects of diabetes on eyes when the optic nerve is damaged. This causes permanent vision loss and blindness. In glaucoma, the fluid pressure inside the eye becomes very high. Blockage, improper circulation and slowing of aqueous humor flow causes the high fluid pressure in the eyes.
Glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. Since patients do not have early symptoms due to increased pressure, regular eye checkups by the eye doctor should be done for proper diagnosis and treatment. In open angle glaucoma, usually there is no symptom. If there is vision loss, it is severe. The patient has loss of peripheral vision. In advanced stages, this type of glaucoma causes blindness. In angle closure glaucoma, symptoms may appear and vanish or becomes worse.
There is severe pain, cloudy vision, nausea, vomiting, swelling and redness in the eyes. The patient sees halos that resemble rainbow around the lights. In congenital glaucoma, the child has symptoms after few months of birth. There is cloudiness in the front part of the eyes. There is enlargement, tearing and redness in the eyes. The child becomes sensitive to light.