Diabetes and eye complications: symptoms and treatment options

You might be asking yourself, how do diabetes and eye complications tie in together? High blood sugar can result in severe damage in your eyes. In Canada, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. Since it is a painless disease, this is why you need to see your eye doctor for yearly screening.

How does high blood sugars affect my eyes?

 It can affect your eyes in several ways, and all people with diabetes, either Type 1 or 2, are at risk.

  • Cataracts – occurs quicker and at a younger age
  • Refractive error changes – the most common refractive change is a myopic shift with increased blood sugar level, where the eye becomes more nearsighted. It can fluctuate with changing sugar levels
  • Glaucoma – people with diabetes are at increased risk of glaucoma
  • Retinopathy –damage to blood vessels, which begins to leak causing bleeding in the eye
  • Macula edema –swelling of the macula due to fluid buildup between the layers of the retina
  • Dry eyes –nerve damage results in less sensitivity in noticing dry eyes and not producing enough tears for the eye to stay lubricated

You should have regular eye exams when you have diabetes, even if you have no visual symptoms.

If you have high blood sugar and any visual symptoms, see an optometrist or ophthalmologists immediately 

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Faded colour
  • Dark or floating spots
  • Flashes of light

Do not buy glasses without having an eye examination.

What happens during a diabetic eye exam?

Unless it is advised otherwise by your doctor, you need to have a comprehensive eye exam every year, including:

  • Visual acuity check
  • Medicated drops are instilled into the eye to dilate your pupils to check the lens and retina
  • Ocular coherence tomography (OCT) – to check the retina and the optic nerve
  • Visual field – checks peripheral vision

What are the treatment options?

With regular eye exams, you can catch early diabetic damage and avoid any ocular complications. Early treatment can help save your vision.

Your ophthalmologist or optometrists will treat the different eye manifestations of diabetes with different treatments. For example, glaucoma is usually treated with drugs or laser, retinopathy with photocoagulation, laser therapy, or injections of special medication into the eye. Cataracts can be treated with a minor surgery. 

Does MSP insure the eye exam?

Medically required eye examinations are insured by MSP, including if you have diabetes.

You can get your full diabetic eye exam at Fraser Valley Cataract and Laser to prevent eye complications due to diabetes. Book your appointment now.

For more information click here!