Published: Oct 16, 2017
Eye of the Beholder
Diabetes is something that affects many aging adults. In fact, the American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 25% of Americans over the age of 60 have diabetes – with type 2 being the most common. If not managed carefully, diabetes can contribute to everything from heart and kidney disease to nerve damage. What many may not know, however, is that the health of the eyes can also take a significant hit from diabetes. Diabetic eye disease, to be specific, is often cited as the leading cause of blindness in adults from the age of 20 to 74.
Rather than being just one isolated condition, diabetic eye disease actual represents an entire group of eye diseases that can affect those with diabetes. This includes diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. Before diving into each of these, let’s explore the way in which diabetes affects the eyes.
How Does Diabetes Affect the Eyes?
When blood sugar, or glucose, levels become too high, fluid levels in the eye change and can cause the lens to swell. For those who have diabetes and regularly manage blood sugar levels, vision can be blurred until levels are back to normal. If, however, levels remain high over time, a variety of problems can occur – usually involving the blood vessels in the back of the eyes which can become damaged.
Below are the eye diseases that can result from these unstable glucose levels.
Diabetic Eye Diseases
Detection & Treatment
If your aging loved one has diabetes and is beginning to experience vision problems, advise that he or she schedules a checkup. All of the aforementioned diabetic eye diseases can be detected by eye exams that check everything from tonometry (the pressure inside the eyes), visual acuity, and pupil dilation. These tests allow doctors to check changes in the lens, nerve tissue damage, and any alterations to the eyes blood vessels. If any of these diseases are detected, doctors will advise accordingly and may suggest treatment.
Treatment has become more sophisticated over the years, especially with the advent of Anti-VEGF Injection Therapy – used to treat DME specifically – and the National Eye Institute continues to bolster research efforts in refining detection/treatment approaches. Of course, our understanding of diabetes itself is also a vital factor. While the hope is that we will find a cure for diabetes, a goal that the Diabetes Research Institute is actively working toward, it may be a long way off. In the interim, there are ways for seniors to reduce their overall risk of diabetic eye disease, as provided by the American Diabetes Association.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
At Comfort Keepers®, our caregivers can provide assistance with daily living and promote proper nutrition, conducive to diabetes management. Additionally, if his or her eyesight is poor, we can provide safe, dependable transportation to places in and around town – whether it’s the grocery store, senior center, or doctor’s office for a scheduled visit. Learn more about how Comfort Keepers can help your aging loved one by calling your local office today.
MedicineNet. “Diabetes and Eye Problems: Read About Symptoms and Treatment.” Web. 2017.
MedlinePlus. “Diabetic Eye Problems.” Web. 2017.
Healthline. “Diabetes and Blurry Vision: What You Need to Know.” Web. 2017.
National Eye Institute (NEI). “Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease.” Web. 2017.