NOV 29, 2010
My husband has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He's working hard on keeping his blood sugar under control, and he's even exercising again. But I'm worried because I read that diabetes can affect your eyesight. Should I be?
You are right to be concerned about your husband's eye health, because diabetes increases his risk for eye disease. If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store sugar properly. This problem can make your blood sugar levels high, which causes changes in the body's veins, arteries and capillaries. High blood-sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to the retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes can cause the vision in both eyes to change, even if you do not have retinopathy. Rapid changes in your blood sugar alter the shape of your eye's lens, and the image on the retina will become out of focus. After your blood sugar stabilizes, the image will be back in focus. You can reduce episodes of blurred vision by maintaining good control of your blood sugar. Total blindness is very uncommon if retinopathy is treated. Treatment does not cure diabetic retinopathy, but it is effective in reducing the risk of further vision loss. Your husband, and anyone with diabetes, should see an ophthalmologist at least once a year to monitor any affect of diabetes on his eyes. As with any disease, the sooner a problem is detected, the sooner it can be treated.