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5 Facts About Diabetes and Your Vision


Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While it's commonly known for its impact on blood sugar levels, diabetes can also have significant effects on your vision. Here are five important facts about diabetes and your vision:

1. Diabetic Retinopathy is a Leading Cause of Vision Loss

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye. This condition can lead to vision impairment and even blindness if not managed properly. Early detection through regular eye exams is crucial for preventing severe outcomes.

2. High Blood Sugar Levels Can Cause Blurry Vision

Fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to temporary changes in vision, such as blurriness. This occurs because high blood sugar can cause the lens of the eye to swell, altering your ability to see clearly. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels through proper management of your diabetes can help prevent these vision changes.

3. Cataracts Develop More Rapidly in People with Diabetes

Cataracts, a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, tend to develop at an earlier age and progress more rapidly in individuals with diabetes. This can cause vision to become blurry or hazy, making it difficult to see. Surgery to replace the cloudy lens with a clear artificial lens is an effective treatment for cataracts.

4. Diabetes Increases the Risk of Glaucoma

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, often due to increased pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can lead to vision loss if not treated. Regular eye exams can help detect glaucoma early, allowing for timely treatment to prevent significant vision impairment.

5. Dry Eyes Are Common in Diabetes

Many people with diabetes experience dry eyes and develop Dry Eye Syndromedue to reduced tear production or poor tear quality. This can cause discomfort, blurred vision, and an increased risk of eye infections. Using artificial tears and managing blood sugar levels can help alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Regular Eye Exams are Essential

For individuals with diabetes, annual comprehensive eye exams and diabetic eye exams are essential. Annual exams help detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions related to diabetes, such as cataracts and glaucoma. Once diagnosed, annual comprehensive eye exams and diabetic health exams, staggered 6 months apart, can prevent or slow down the progression of these conditions, preserving your vision.

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Yes, diabetic health exams are covered by Alberta Health.

In Alberta, we advise diabetic see an optometrist twice a year - once for a comprehensive eye exam and once for a diabetic health exam. Staggering these exams 6 months apart ensures the best monitoring and management of diabetes and your vision.