The human eye is by far one of the most important and enigmatic organs. It bestows vision and lets us see the world around us. However, 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. In fact, many people are not aware of the intricacy and beauty of the eye let alone the complex mechanisms of diabetes that affect eyes.
The sheer complexity of this organ is mind boggling and is a testimony of the dexterity of the supreme designer. We rely on it so much and use it to such an extent that we tend to take it for granted. Our interpretation of the world, seeing its beautiful colors and myriad hues is only possible because of these two crazy diamonds.
Unfortunately, we do not bother about these two jewels as long as we have 20/20 vision – more so in people with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy creeps in without a warning. In the initial stages, it is guilty of exhibiting no symptoms at all. Most people have 20/20 vision, but suddenly the world around starts to turn bleak. We shall get to diabetic retinopathy stages and other diabetic eye problems in later sections. But now, let us explore the amazing universe hidden in the human eye!
Some interesting facts of the human eye:
• 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.
• Our eyes have 107 light-sensitive cells called the rods and cones. The rods (100 million) allow us to see in the dark and the 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 the causes 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 a deficiency of vitamin A.
• Most people get blindness due to infections, injuries, age-related degeneration, and other causes.
• In India, the 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.
• Pediatric retinoblastoma is another leading cause of blindness in children. This rare form of cancer is on the rise in India.
• When it comes to refractive errors that cause visual impairment, conditions like myopia, double vision, astigmatism, and presbyopia are very common in India. Refractive errors of the eye are known to cause blindness.
• 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.
Eye diseases are many and most of them are avoidable. Yet we see that most people end up with considerable vision loss. Considering the laborious process involved in eye transplant surgeries, it is better for people to take good care of their eyes and preserve their eyesight.
In the next sections, we shall know about diabetic cataract, diabetic macular edema, and many other diabetic eye problems. But first, how well do you know about your eye?