Diabetes and Vision Problems

Progressive or sudden vision loss is a very debilitating experience. Losing the ability to see the world is like losing the ability to live. It is very difficult for a person to cope with vision loss and blindness. It is best to avoid it.

In people with diabetes, eyes are among the first to be damaged. This has various reasons. Despite massive awareness being created on early symptoms of diabetes, people tend to be diagnosed only after some damage has been done.

Though diet, exercise and medication are prescribed as mainstay treatment, people have issues controlling their diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes along with a long tenure of diabetes combined with hypertension leads to diabetic eye problems.

The very nature of diabetes as a condition is glucose toxicity. High blood sugar levels lead to immense pressure on the circulatory system. It especially wrecks small blood vessels and capillaries. Since the eye is a structure that is full of numerous small blood vessels, damage to it is maximum.

Diabetes causes cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Considering that diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause for blindness in people with diabetes, it is important for everyone to understand the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, its stages and prognosis.

As such India has the largest number of blind people in the world. Added to that, diseases of the eye like glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy are steadily rising. If you or your family member have diabetes, it pays to know the relationship between diabetes and eyes.

People with diabetes tend to have diabetic eye problems that create vision loss. The relationship between diabetes and eyes is key to the understanding of diabetic retinopathy and many other diabetic eye problems.

Interesting Facts of the Human Eyes

  • The most common eye color is brown.
  • Our eyes are just like cameras. We see with our brains.
  • When you read a book or stare at a computer, your eyes get tired and blink less.
  • We blink more when we talk.
  • It is impossible to keep your eyes open while sneezing.
  • We can see 500 shades of grey.
  • The cornea does not have any blood vessels.
  • Our eyes have 2 million working parts.
  • We have two eyeballs in order to facilitate depth perception.
  • The eye has 107 light-sensitive cells called rods and cones. Rods (100 million) allow us to see in dark and cones (7 million) allow us to see colors.
  • If the human eye were a digital camera, it would have 576 megapixels.
  • Our eyes have a blind spot behind the retina where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. However, we do not notice a hole in our vision as each eye works towards filling the other eye’s blind spot.
  • Though 80% of vision problems are curable, we have many people heading towards blindness due to lack of awareness and conditions like diabetes.

Quick Facts on Eye Diseases

  • India is home to the largest number of blind people in the world with 15 million of them. Most of them are avoidable.
  • Causes of blindness in India include cataracts, trachoma, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, posterior segment disorders (including optic nerve and retina), and refractive errors, carcinoma of the retina, surgical complications, and corneal blindness.
  • Many people suffer from nutritional blindness that is caused due to deficiency of vitamin A.
  • Most people get blindness due to infections, injuries, age-related degeneration and other causes.
  • In India, incidence of cataract is wide spread. It is one of the leading causes of blindness. Though it affects people after the age of 40, it is known to affect younger populations. People with diabetes are prone to bilateral cataracts.
  • There are more than 27.6 million people with all forms of glaucoma in India. Most of them are above 40 yrs. of age. Diabetes and hypertension are major risk factors for glaucoma.
  • Age-related macular degeneration is another cause of blindness that generally affects people above 60 yrs. of age. Risk factors for this include age, and smokeless tobacco. Diabetes is known to cause wet macular degeneration.
  • When it comes to refractive errors that cause visual impairment, conditions like myopia, double vision, astigmatism and presbyopia are very common.

Finally, a major cause of blindness is due to diabetic eye problems – diabetic retinopathy. This is caused due to uncontrolled diabetes, high blood sugar levels and high blood pressure.