Written By: Kierstan Boyd
If you have diabetes, you probably already know that you’re at risk for vision problems. You know that controlling your blood sugar and monitoring your A1C is vital for your overall health. But here are some facts about diabetes and your eye health that you might not know:
1. Most major eye disease from diabetes takes about five to 10 years to develop.
But that doesn’t mean your vision is safe during those years. Damage to your eyes from uncontrolled blood sugar doesn’t have symptoms at first. That’s why it is critical to have an ophthalmologist examine your eyes regularly to find problems before you notice them.
2. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop cataracts than other adults.
Cataracts also develop at a younger age and progress faster in adults with diabetes than in people without it. High blood sugar levels lead to a build-up of cells and proteins in the eye’s lens, making it cloudy. Maintaining strict control of blood glucose levels may help delay the onset of cataracts.
3. Women with diabetes who become pregnant are at high risk for diabetic retinopathy and vision loss.
They should have an eye exam early in the pregnancy, then again as recommended by their ophthalmologist. However, women who develop diabetes during pregnancy (called gestational diabetes) are generally not at risk for developing retinopathy while they are pregnant.
4. Diabetes can cause double vision.
When diabetes causes enough damage to the body’s circulation, it can lead to paralysis of the muscles that move the eyes. If one or more muscles in one eye don’t work properly, the eyes don’t work together. The brain receives two images instead of one, causing double vision or diplopia. The double vision usually last a few days to a few weeks. Keeping blood sugar controlled and taking diabetes medicine as prescribed can help resolve this vision problem.
5. People with diabetes may be more likely to get eye infections.
When diabetes is not controlled properly, it can affect the body’s immune system, lowering your ability to fight infection. That can lead to conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other eye infections. To prevent eye infections, keep your blood sugar levels in good control, wash your hands often and don’t touch your eyes.