Dr. Mark Fleckner, a Long Island-based ophthalmologist specializing in vitreoretinal diseases, treats many patients with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or prediabetes, making it one of the most prevalent health conditions in the nation. Diabetes can affect the body in numerous ways, including causing vision impairment and even blindness. Dr. Mark R. Fleckner MD explains four common eye conditions that can be a result of diabetes.
4 Eye Conditions Caused By Diabetes
People with diabetes have chronic high blood sugar, which can affect blood vessels in the retina. Located in the back of the eye, the retina is responsible for directing light and transmitting it to the brain via the optic nerve. High blood sugar can cause the retinal vessels to swell and become blocked, which impacts your ability to see. Because diabetic retinopathy presents no symptoms in its early stages, Garden City Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark R. Fleckner MD advises everyone with diabetes should see an eye doctor once a year for an exam. If untreated, this disease can lead to vision loss.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
Macular edema is a build-up of fluids in the macula, a part of the retina, which results in swelling. DME is a result of diabetic retinopathy and about half of people with diabetic retinopathy develop DME. The macula is responsible for focusing, enabling you to read, drive, and recognize faces. Dr. Mark R. Fleckner MD says both DME and diabetic retinopathy can be detected in an eye exam.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss among adults. It can be present without diabetes but those with diabetes have twice the risk of developing it. Glaucoma affects the optic nerve, eroding the vision and eventually resulting in blindness. Like DME and diabetic retinopathy, eye doctors can detect and treat glaucoma in its early stages.
Cataracts can also occur without diabetes, but those with diabetes are two to five times more at risk. Cataracts involve a clouding of the eye lens, gradually decreasing vision. Most cataracts are age-related, but people with diabetes may experience them earlier and symptoms may progress faster. Dr. Mark R. Fleckner MD explains cataracts can be surgically removed, though not all are operable.