Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Diabetic Retinopathy: Chronically elevated blood sugars can damage the tiny blood vessels or capillaries in the retina (the light sensitive portion at the back of the eye), leading to a disease called diabetic retinopathy. The damaged blood vessels in the retina become leaky, and the resulting bleeding and leak of protein-fluid can distort vision. Over time, if the disease process is not controlled, new abnormal blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina, which can bleed, and lead to scarring, both of which can potentially cause vision loss.
Diabetic macular edema (DME). The macula is the most light senisitve portion of the retina, responsible for sharp central vision. Because of the leaking fluid from the blood vessles of the retina that are affected by diabetes, the macula gets a swelling and that often results in distortion and/ or loss of vision. This is called diabetic macular edema, or DME.
Diabetic eye disease also includes cataract and glaucoma:
Cataract results in decrease of vision that is painless and progressive, due to a clouding of the eye’s lens which is naturally clear and transparent. Cataracts tend to develop and progress faster in patients with uncontrolled blood sugars, as compared to those without.
Glaucoma is also known to be twice as common in people with diabetes, as compared to those without. Glaucoma is a group of heterogeneous diseases which the eye’s optic nerve is damaged, often due to elevated eye pressures.