Diabetes can wreak havoc all over the body, including the eyes. Diabetic vision loss is one of the most serious side effects associated with diabetes. The American Diabetes Associate reports that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults in the United States each year. People affected with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus are at risk of developing partial or complete vision loss. Eye problems that develop as a result of diabetes are often a side effect of the blood vessel damage caused by the disease. When the blood vessels in the eye’s retina become damaged, diabetic vision can be seriously compromised. The retina is the membrane that lines the inner eyeball and is sensitive to light. It is connected to the brain by the optic nerve. Dangerous spikes in blood sugar, also known as diabetic hyperglycemia, put the eyes at risk each they occur. Keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range is the most important thing a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus can do to protect their eyes.


Diabetic Retinopathy Vision Statistics


The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse released information that reveals just how bad diabetic retinopathy vision has become in recent years. According to the organization, between the years of 2005 and 2008, nearly 30 percent of people with diabetes in the United States aged 40 and older (4.2 million people) had developed diabetic retinopathy. Of these cases, 4.4 percent had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe or total diabetic vision loss. In the most severe cases of diabetic retinopathy vision, retinal detachment can occur. This happens when the sensory and pigment layers in the retina become separated and can cause irreversible damage to the vision if not treated immediately. Diabetic retinopathy often does not show stages in its early stages, so scheduling an annual eye exam is important. When symptoms to present themselves, they usually include blurred vision, floaters in the vision and sudden vision loss.


Combating Diabetic Vision Loss


As stated previously, keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range is essential for preventing diabetic vision loss. This is achieved through a healthy regular diet and exercise program. When a person is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, they should begin working with a nutritionist immediately to help them develop an eating and workout regimen that will drastically reduce the chances of hyperglycemia. Eating foods with a low glycemic index is key for diabetics, and the recommended amount of physical activity is 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise each day. A person with diabetes should aim to exercise 5 to 6 days a week. A brisk walk outdoors or on a treadmill can do the trick. Getting a dog may be a practical choice for a person with diabetes, as walking the pet will provide a regular and effective source of exercise.


Other Diabetic Vision Problems


Besides retinopathy, the development of cataracts and glaucoma are other diabetic vision problems. When a cataract is present, the otherwise clear lens of the eye becoming foggy or clouded. Anyone can develop a cataract, but diabetic persons are at a higher risk and get them at an overall earlier age. When a cataract develops, vision becomes impaired and surgery or laser treatments may be necessary to correct it. Glaucoma is another one of the diabetic vision problems that can cause blindness. It occurs when there is a buildup of pressure inside the eye that results from damaged blood vessels. This pressure causes the eye’s nerves to become damaged, and changes in vision are the result. The best way to prevent glaucoma is to have an annual screening for the disease by an eye doctor.