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Why Diabetes Can Be a Threat to Your Vision

Most people (correctly) associate Type 2 diabetes with excess body weight, a lack of exercise and a generally unhealthy lifestyle. Most people understand that diabetes involves your ability to process blood sugar, and that your body doesn’t respond well to the important hormone insulin. 

What many people don’t realize, however, is that diabetes can lead to complications far worse than weight gain. Lesser known side effects of diabetes include sores and ulcers that won’t heal, loss of feeling in the limbs, amputation, and blindness. 

Yep — blindness

Dr. Michael Ragen has seen this unfortunate condition, called diabetic retinopathy, in patients at his Camarillo, California, eye clinic. Take a moment to learn how diabetes can threaten the health of your eyes and impact your vision.

Understanding diabetic retinopathy

Retinopathy refers to damage of your retina, the thin layer of tissue near your optic nerve. Your retina senses light and relays that information to your brain for visual imaging — needless to say, it’s a pretty important part of your ability to see. 

When you have chronically high blood sugar (the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes), it can damage delicate blood vessels, including those in your eyes. Retinal blood vessels affected by diabetes may break, swell, close, or leak. Sometimes, new blood vessels form on your retina. 

These changes can cloud and alter your vision, eventually leading to blindness without intervention. 

Diabetic retinopathy develops gradually, so you might not even know you have it. That’s why it’s extra important to see your eye doctor regularly if you have diabetes.

Preventing or managing diabetic retinopathy

Preventing diabetic retinopathy starts with preventing diabetes. The best diabetes prevention practices include lifestyle factors, such as: 

If you already have diabetes, your doctor may prescribe insulin or another diabetes medication along with lifestyle interventions. Managing diabetes requires a commitment and diligence from you — while your doctor can provide instructions, it’s up to you to take control of your health. 

If you’re on the verge of developing diabetic retinopathy or you’ve been diagnosed with the condition, you need to work with an eye doctor like Dr. Ragen. Treatment may involve medication, laser therapy, or surgery, depending on how advanced your diabetic retinopathy is. 

Call our Camarillo, California, office at 805-388-1211 or book your appointment online to find out if you have diabetic retinopathy. You can also send a message to Dr. Ragen, Dr. Kyle Huynh, and the team here on our website.

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