November 5, 2015

6 Facts About Diabetes and the Eyes

By: Dr. S. Sharma
Diabetic Retinopathy
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and we thought it would be helpful to share some information about diabetes and in particular how diabetes can affect vision and health of the eyes.

Fact 1: The Canadian Diabetes Association estimates that more than three million Canadians have diabetes and diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases among children and youth.

Fact 2: The ocular manifestation of diabetes is known as Retinopathy. It is described as the damage to the retina as a result of diabetes and is often referred to as ‘diabetes of the eye’. When diabetes affects the eyes, the macula (part of the retina that helps you see colour) becomes swollen and can lead to blindness. Diabetes also weakens the blood vessels in the eye and sometimes they leak blood into the eye thereby compromising vision.

Fact 3: Diabetic Retinopathy is the second highest cause of blindness in Canada. Diabetic Retinopathy affects 80% of patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. “The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication.” (Mayo Clinic)

Fact 4: Signs and symptoms of Retinopathy are blurred vision, sudden loss of vision and spotty vision

Fact 5: The treatment options are often based on the extent of the damage to the retina. Laser therapy may help seal leaking blood vessels in the eye and in other cases, surgically removing the vitreous gel may help improve vision. 

Fact 6: Prevention begins with visiting your optometrist at least once a year and maintaining a healthy lifestyle conducive to managing diabetes. For more information on how to protect your eyes,see this resource released by the Canadian Diabetes Association here.

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