Diabetes type 2: The ‘first’ warning sign of high blood sugar damage to the eyes

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As soon as you experience symptoms of high blood sugar, you will need to get moving, drink water, and eat healthier to bring down a high reading. For some people, insulin injections might be needed. While spikes in blood sugar levels are to be expected if you have type 2 diabetes, no matter how well you manage the condition, if this occurs too often, damage is going to occur. Optimetrist Doctor Shane Kannarr said: “High blood sugar can change the blood vessels in our retina.”

High blood sugar can also lead to “swelling in the tissues of our eyes”, leading to the “first” warning sign of diabetic retinopathy – blurred vision.

“The goal is to find changes before damage is irreversible,” cautioned Doctor Kannarr.

“The earlier you’re diagnosed with diabetic eye disease, the better your visual outcome will be.”

While blurred vision is treatable, diabetic retinopathy might not reveal any symptoms until the later stages of the condition.

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As such, Doctor Kannarr recommends comprehensive eye exams every year, which are “so important” if you have diabetes.

If you experience blurred vision and get treatment, it can take up to three months for your eyesight to return to normal, if at all.

“Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss,” the optometrist warned. “In fact, diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 to 74.

“Excess blood sugar can damage the body’s smallest blood vessels and impairs blood flow,” Doctor Kannarr continued.

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Consequently, the blood vessels are deprived of oxygen, they can swell, and leak fluid.

“Fluid leaks can also change the shape and size of the eye’s lens, causing cataracts,” he added.

“These leaks also can harm the retina, the back of the eye, where visual images are formed.

“Diabetes can produce bleeding and excess fluid in the retina, which can have a serious effect on our vision.”

Signs of elevated blood sugars

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Dark spots in your vision
  • Flashes of light in your eyesight
  • “Holes” in your vision.

To help avoid your eyesight from deteriorating, you need to take control of your diabetes.

There are several ways to do so, from getting enough sleep every night (seven to eight hours nightly) to staying hydrated.

“Surprisingly stress can affect your blood sugar levels,” said Doctor Kannarr.

“Managing your stress through exercise or relaxation methods like yoga as well as mindfulness can help you regulate blood sugar levels.”

If you are struggling to manage your blood sugar levels, speak to your diabetes care team.

Everybody who has type 2 diabetes should have access to professional medical care via their doctor’s surgery.

Optimetrist Doctor Shane Kannarr is a leading medical reviewer for eyesight experts All About Vision.

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