Every 21 seconds, someone new is diagnosed with diabetes, reports the American Diabetes Association. About 10% of the U.S. population, or nearly 34 million people, have the disease. Most of them suffer from Type 2. Diabetes can affect people in many ways, such as causing medical conditions and impacting their vision health. Here, specifically, is what people should know about the connection between blurred vision and diabetes.
People with blurred vision say that everything looks cloudy and out of focus. They struggle to see clearly. Many conditions can cause blurred vision. However, it’s one of the first warning signs of diabetes, medical experts report. It can come on slowly, or quickly, and can change throughout the day.
This is why adults (and children) should have their eyes examined by a professional every year. Among other medical conditions, diabetes can be caught early during a comprehensive eye exam. The connection between healthy eyes and overall wellness is real.
People with diabetes can experience a retinal disorder called diabetic retinopathy. This disease includes macular edema and proliferative retinopathy, which can cause blurred vision. People with diabetes also can experience blurred vision due to glaucoma and cataracts.
- Macular edema — This happens when leaking fluid causes the macula to swell. The macula is the area within the retina that provides sharp central vision. As the lens changes shape, it’s difficult for the eyes to focus, causing blurred vision.
- Proliferative retinopathy — With this condition, blood vessels leak into the center of the eye, causing spots, floaters or problems with night vision.
- Glaucoma – People with diabetes have twice the risk of developing glaucoma. This disease increases pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve.
- Cataracts – Blurred vision also can be a sign of cataracts. People with diabetes can develop cataracts at a younger age than most adults.
Since people with diabetes are at increased risk for eye diseases, they should schedule a vision exam with an ophthalmologist at least once a year. Only an ophthalmologist can treat retinal diseases. During the exam, be sure to tell the eye doctor about new medications and any vision changes such as blurred vision.
For diabetics, it’s especially important for the eye doctor to examine the optic nerve and blood vessels in and around the retina. For this, the doctor may suggest having an Optomap® instead of, or in addition to, having both eyes dilated. Optomap takes a high-resolution image of the retina. It’s fast and there’s no down time from having the eyes dilated. It may not be covered by insurance, so ask the doctor about cost. Usually, an Optomap costs around $50.
Any time people experience blurred vision, they should see an eye doctor. This especially is true if vision changes come on quickly or get worse. The issue could be caused by the onset of diabetes or any number of medical conditions.