How Does Diabetes Affect the Eyes?
Our eyes are sensitive organs supplied by many delicate blood vessels. When blood sugar builds up in the bloodstream, these fragile blood vessels become blocked, preventing blood flow to the eyes.
This can manifest as several different diabetic eye diseases.
Behind the pupil and the iris is the lens, which helps focus the light entering the eye onto the retina. When the lens starts to cloud and fog, this is called a cataract.
Cataracts generally develop as part of the natural aging process and are very common in Americans over 80. While anybody can get cataracts, those with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing them, and much earlier and worse than others.
When the eyes’ delicate blood vessels are damaged by high blood sugar, they can swell, break, and leak blood and fluids into the retina. This leads to an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. The eyes will occasionally attempt to compensate by growing new, but weak and abnormal, blood vessels, but these can also risk damaging your retina.
Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a common complication of diabetic retinopathy. DME occurs when there is fluid build-up from the damaged blood vessels in the macula, causing it to swell.
High blood sugar can also cause your lens to swell, which may lead to blurred vision. This vision change may be temporary. However, this vision change may be temporary and can be corrected by getting your blood sugar levels back under control.