How Diabetes Causes Blindness

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and our team at Eyecare Center of Snohomish wants to use this occasion to bring attention to one of the most common diabetes-related conditions: diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness for adults between the ages of 20 and 74. But don’t let these statistics scare you, because with proper blood sugar control and eye treatments, you can prevent your vision from worsening.

Our optometrist, Dr. Anup Deol, has extensive experience diagnosing diabetic retinopathy. Here’s what she wants you to know about the causes of diabetic eye degeneration. 

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels 

Diabetic retinopathy doesn’t develop overnight. It usually develops decades after diagnosis, usually in patients who have poor control over their blood sugar levels. 

A good tool for determining whether your blood sugar levels are on point is the A1C test, which looks at your average blood sugar level over the last three months. If your blood sugar level is high, you may have to adjust your diet and focus on foods that have a low glycemic index.

Decreased insulin sensitivity 

Some diabetics also suffer from insulin resistance. This means that you may need more insulin to enable your cells to use the glucose from your diet. When your pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin or doesn’t use it properly, your blood sugar level skyrockets, damaging your organs and tissues.

So what should you do to gain more control over your blood sugar levels if you’re insulin resistant? Adopt a more active lifestyle and a healthy diet. Insulin levels improve after exercise, and weight loss is also shown to be beneficial.

Some medications may lead to decreased insulin sensitivity. If you suspect one of your medications is causing your body to be less sensitive to insulin, reach out to your doctor about your concerns. 

In some cases, insulin resistance doesn’t respond to dietary changes alone. If this applies to you, speak with a medical professional and adjust your insulin levels accordingly. 

B12 deficiency 

Studies suggest that a B12 deficiency may also increase your chances of developing diabetic eye disease. Unfortunately, B12 deficiency is very common in diabetics because metformin, a commonly prescribed insulin sensitizer, decreases the absorption of B12.  

Prevent diabetic eye disease from taking over

If you suspect you may be developing diabetic eye disease, we can help. With a simple consult, Dr. Deol can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan to stall the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Contact us to schedule an appointment and find out more about your eye health. 

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