The majority of patients with diabetes have no visual symptoms. They may experience blurred or wavy vision or patches of missing sight without actually realising that these are serious. Annual eye exams can save your sight by finding these conditions early, before they cause long-term, irreversible vision loss or blindness. Doctor Shane Kannarr, leading Medical Reviewer for eyesight experts from All About Vision spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to offer his top tips and warning symptoms regarding high blood sugar and the eyes.
When asked why blood sugar affects a person’s eyes, doctor Kannarr answered: “High blood sugar can change the blood vessels in our retina or cause swelling in the tissues of our eyes which help us see, causing blurred vision.
“High blood sugar can also change the shape of our lens, and if left untreated, it can lead to problems like cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy.
“The earlier you’re diagnosed with diabetic eye disease, the better your visual outcome will be.
“The goal is to find changes before damage is irreversible.”
When it comes to the main symptoms pertaining to eyes, doctor Kannar said: “Blurry vision is the first, and main, warning sign and can be treated.
“Sadly, most diabetic eye disease has no symptoms until it is advanced to a significant level.
“That is why annual comprehensive eye exams are so important.
“Once caught, it can take as long as three months for your vision to fully get back to normal, if it does.
“Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss.
“In fact, diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 to 74.”
Regarding the technical process which occurs with blood sugars and a person’s eyes, doctor Kannar explained: “Diabetes’ destruction to eyes stems from the body failing to make or effectively use insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas.
“Insulin, and the pancreas that pumps it out, processes and ships blood glucose from your food to your body’s cells. When it operates smoothly, blood sugar serves as your main energy source.
“But, if you have high blood sugar, glucose stays in your bloodstream rather than reaching your cells. This process can lead to vision loss and, ultimately, blindness.
“Diabetes is a disease that affects small blood vessels; excess blood sugar damages the body’s smallest blood vessels and impairs blood flow.
“This starves the tissues capillaries, which leads to leaking blood vessels, swelling and oxygen deprivation.”
Fluid leaks are also known to change the shape and size of the eye’s lens, causing cataracts.
These leaks also can harm the retina, the back of the eye, where visual images are formed.
Diabetes can produce bleeding and excess fluid in the retina, which can have a serious effect on our vision.
Main symptoms found in eyes include:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Dark spots
- Flashes of light
- “Holes” in a person’s vision.