Patients with diabetes

Medical content revised by - Last revision 07/02/2017
Patients with diabetes

What should we seek to prevent in the case of people suffering from diabetes?

Some disorders and complications in vision associated to diabetes are:

  • Diabetic retinopathy, a vascular disease associated to diabetes consisting in high glucose levels that alter blood vessel walls and make such walls more permeable, thus leading to a series of vision problems.
  • Vitreous humor hemorrhages, associated to diabetic retinopathy.
  • Diabetic macular edema, where the central area in the retina is filled with fluid.
  • Retinal detachment caused by its traction.
  • Cataracts, caused by a higher predisposition of diabetic people to suffer them.
  • Neovascular glaucoma, a type of secondary glaucoma associated to diabetes mellitus. People with diabetes are 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma, a disease consisting in the increase of intraocular pressure that causes damages in the optic nerve.

What can I do to prevent diabetes from affecting my vision?

  • Go to regular ophthalmological examinations, at least once a year, in order to detect possible complications of type 1 and 2 diabetes, as 1 in 3 people affected by diabetes suffers some kind of diabetic retinopathy. During the examination, the ophthalmologist will dilate your pupils in order to examine the eye blood vessels and detect possible damages.
  • Eat a healthy diet, with low-fat foods with appropriate amounts of nutrients, such as vegetables, lean (low-fat) proteins), whole grains and breads, fruit and dairy products, and avoiding sugar intake.
  • If you suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure, it is essential to control the blood pressure and glucose levels, as well as to have healthy habits in order to keep such levels within the appropriate limits. This control may contribute to reduce possible eye damages.
  • Verify your levels of “good” and “bad” cholesterol. High bad cholesterol levels may cause damages in blood vessels.
  • If you smoke, you should quit. Tobacco consumption causes alterations in blood vessels, thus increasing the chances of suffering eye conditions.
  • Do physical exercise following your doctor recommendations on type and duration of such exercise. Control your blood sugar levels before and throughout sport practice. Exercise may reduce blood sugar levels.

When should I go to the ophthalmologist? Warning signs

Beyond regular examinations, you should go to the ophthalmologist in case of:

  • Blurred vision
  • Troubles in reading signs or books
  • Double vision
  • Pain in one or both eyes
  • Eye redness over a sustained period
  • Feeling of pressure in the eye
  • Eye floaters or spots in vision
  • Straight lines seem bent
  • General worsening in vision

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