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How Does Diabetes Affect the Eyes? | Long Island Eye Doctor

How Does Diabetes Affect the Eyes?
Meghan Schiffer, OD

November is American Diabetes Month. The prevalence of diabetes, particularly type 2, is rising every year. According to the American Diabetes Association, 86 million Americans have a diagnosis of prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in which blood sugar levels within the body are uncontrolled, leading to the damage of small blood vessels. So, how can this affect the eye?

Some of the smallest blood vessels in our body are located within the retina (the tissue in the back of the eye). These vessels are often the first to be affected by long-term elevated blood glucose levels, and are the only vessels which can be viewed without invasive procedure. When your eyes are dilated, the optometrist or ophthalmologist is able to obtain a detailed view of these vessels to determine if damage has occurred. When the vessels become damaged, they can bleed. This causes a range of problems from a single dot hemorrhage to extensive growth of newer, weaker vessels. Depending on the severity of the diabetic retinopathy, vision may or may not be affected.

An annual dilated eye examination is recommended for all patients diagnosed with diabetes. It is important to monitor your own blood sugar levels on a regular basis and continue routine follow up care with your primary care physician or endocrinologist as directed.

 

Dr. Meghan Schiffer

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