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Diabetic Eye Disease
If you have diabetes, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including your eyes. The part of the eye most affected by diabetes is the sensory layer in the back of the eye called the retina and the problem is called diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy may be classified as nonproliferative or proliferative. In the nonproliferative type, you may have blood vessels within the retina leaking blood or fluid. When fluid accumulates in the center of the retina (the macula) that is normally used to allow us to see fine detail, this is called macular edema. Proliferative retinopathy is a more advanced form where abnormal blood vessels grow in the area of the retina. These vessels may have associated scar tissue and are prone to break or bleed. In severe cases, pulling of the scar tissue on the retina can lead to a retinal detachment.
The best protection from vision loss due to diabetes comes with early detection. In many cases, early detection with a dilated eye exam can pick up on changes that are treatable with medication or laser prior to the development of significant vision loss. If you have diabetes, you should have an eye examination at least once per year. If you are pregnant with diabetes, you should schedule an eye examination in your first trimester because retinopathy can progress quickly during pregnancy.
Rapid changes in your blood sugar can also cause fluctuations in your vision. For this reason, examinations for eyeglasses will allow for the most stable eyeglass prescription when your blood sugar is consistently under control for at least several days.