If you are diabetic, your eyes are at risk. It doesn’t matter if you’re really careful about your disease and on top of your blood sugar levels and everything. If you have diabetes, your eyes are at risk of developing diabetes-related eye diseases.
That isn’t to say that your efforts to control your diabetes have been futile. That is not true at all. In fact it’s the opposite. There is so much to remember when it comes to dealing with diabetes that it’s easy to forget something like our eyesight.
Diabetes can be a stressful disease at times and the last thing you need is another disease to worry about, which is why we’ve put together a guide. This guide will help you understand the eye diseases associated with diabetes and how you can prevent them naturally.
Diabetic retinopathy is a disease that will likely affect everyone with diabetes at some point. However, if caught early, diabetic retinopathy is incredibly manageable. To catch it early you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy happens when the blood vessels in the eye are damaged due to high blood pressure. This affects the retina of the eye, which is the part of the eye that detects light and color.
When blood pressure is too high in the eye, it can cause the blood vessels in the eye to leak and hemorrhage, causing spotty vision. In the later stages of the disease, the leakage can cause permanent vision loss and irreversible damage to the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is often split into two stages: early diabetic retinopathy and advanced diabetic retinopathy.
Early diabetic retinopathy is caused by the lack of new blood vessels being produced. When the eye stops producing blood vessels, the old vessels become weak and cannot support the amount of fluid. As a result, they begin to leak into the retina and causing spotty vision.
Early diabetic retinopathy may also see the growth of abnormally large blood vessels which then block other vessels.
Swelling in the eye and the retina is common in this stage of diabetic retinopathy. Treatment is the best option for this stage otherwise it will progress into advanced diabetic retinopathy.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy is where we see the permanent vision loss. If you don’t treat your retinopathy in the early stage, it may be too late to do anything in the advanced stage.
In the advanced stage of the disease, the damaged blood vessels begin to close off and new abnormal blood vessels begin to grow. These new vessels leak fluid into the eye. This can cause severe scarring in the retina and nerve damage. In some cases, it can cause glaucoma.
Signs and Symptoms
Unfortunately, it can be tough to spot early diabetic retinopathy because there aren’t any warning signs. The only way to spot this disease early is to have your doctor perform a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Only they will be able to tell you if the disease has developed or not.
The signs and symptoms of the disease only show up once it is too late to do anything. Advanced diabetic retinopathy will cause blurred vision, clear floaters, black spots in your vision and vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is a scary disease to have, but it doesn’t need to be. There are plenty of ways to prevent it naturally so that you don’t need to worry about it.
Fruit like bilberries, gingko biloba, and grape seed extract are great sources of vitamins A and C which will strengthen the blood vessels in the eyes. Gingko biloba is also good for increasing the diameter of the blood vessels (but not to an abnormal size) to improve blood circulation to the retina.
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in foods like apples, pepper, red wine (yes, really), berries and citrus fruit is great for keep blood pressure low.
Diabetic Macular Edema
Diabetic macular edema is closely related to diabetic retinopathy. About half the people who have diabetic retinopathy will develop diabetic macular edema (DME). Though DME often develops in the advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, it can develop at any stage of the disease.
DME directly affects the retina when there is a build-up of fluid in the macula. This will eventually cause vision loss if not treated properly.
Signs and Symptoms
Like early diabetic retinopathy, there are no obvious signs or symptoms of this disease. The only symptom is blurred vision, however because DME occurs at the same time as diabetic retinopathy, it can be hard to separate the two.
The only way to know if you have DME is to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor.
DME can be prevented naturally by preventing diabetic retinopathy. If you prevent one, you’ll prevent the other. Be sure to always monitor your blood sugar levels, your blood pressure levels and see your eye doctor at least once a year.
Glaucoma and Cataracts
The two diseases most associated with diabetes are diabetic retinopathy and DME. But studies have shown that glaucoma and cataracts are also common in those with diabetes.
Cataracts are more often associated with those who have type-2 diabetes. A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens due to a protein build up. They cause blurred central vision.
Glaucoma is the increase of intraocular pressure in the eye, which results in vision loss. Glaucoma is actually the leading cause of blindness in America. Regulating eye pressure in important to hold off glaucoma.
Signs and Symptoms
Cataracts are easier to spot than glaucoma. Cataracts will affect your central vision. Because they form on the lens, you can actually see the grey spots forming on it. So if you notice grey spots in your iris and you have blurred vision, you should see a doctor right away.
Glaucoma on the other hand is much like diabetic retinopathy because there are no symptoms until it is too late. Your doctor is the only one who can tell you if you have glaucoma or not.
Preventing cataracts naturally involves a lot of shielding. Your eyes are likely to wear down and develop cataracts if they are often exposed to harsh environments. That means to prevent it you need to protect your eyes from UV rays, harsh lighting, and dim lighting.
One way to help prevent glaucoma naturally is by doing regular moderate exercise. Regular exercise helps keep the levels in your body balanced so that the pressure in the eye never gets to be too much.
Taking care of your eyes is especially important when you have diabetes. Make sure to see your eye doctor at least once a year or more frequently if you already have any of these conditions.