Does uncontrolled blood sugar affect your eyes?

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Diabetic Retinopathy Blood Sugar
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DR B AASHISH REDDY

“Can diabetes affect my eyes?” is a frequently asked question by people with diabetes. The answer is Yes. Eyes often get affected by elevated blood sugar levels.  Uncontrolled blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels that supply the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. Thus people having diabetes should keep a check on their blood sugar levels.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), around 77 million people (8.9% population) in India have diabetes.1 

How does diabetes affect your eyes, and what are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can have long-term or short-term effects on the eyes due to damage to small blood vessels supplying the retina over time. Initially, people with diabetes experience no symptoms. But as the condition progresses, they may experience:

  • Blurred vision
  • Spots or dark strings floating in the vision
  • Watery eyes
  • Pain in eyes
  • Loss of vision
  • Halos around light
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Difficulty in recognizing colors. Colors appear faded

That damage caused by increased blood sugar levels leads to a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Sometimes diabetes retinopathy can lead to blindness too.

According to studies, almost two-thirds of people with diabetes tend to develop diabetic retinopathy (DR)2 during their lifetime.

How can we manage diabetic retinopathy?

During the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy, people do not experience any symptoms. But regular eye check-ups and keeping blood sugar in check can help one prevent diabetic retinopathy. If you experience any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, you must consult your doctor to avoid further complications. Also, one should lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid stress.

How can you prevent Diabetic Eye complications?

People with diabetes must take preventive measures to protect their vision. Here are few tips that you can include to prevent eye complications due to diabetes:

  • Get your eye checkup done regularly. At least once a year.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco.
  • Exercise regularly.  Include brisk walking and light weight lifting in your exercise regime.
  • Keep your blood sugar level in control
  • Include green, leavy vegetables and fiber-rich food in your diet

Eyes are among the most precious possessions, and one must take good care of them. For people with diabetes, regular eye check-ups and consistent diabetes management can help them steer away from eye problems and manage complications.

Ref:

  1. https://idf.org/our-network/regions-members/south-east-asia/members/94-india.html 
  2. Gadkari SS, Maskati QB, Nayak BK. Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in India: The All India Ophthalmological Society Diabetic Retinopathy Eye Screening Study 2014. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2016;64(1):38-44. doi:10.4103/0301-4738.178144

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