What is diabetic eye disease?
Serious eye problems are one of the side-effects of diabetes, a condition that affects more than 1 in 25 Australians. The main conditions grouped under the term diabetic eye disease are:
- Diabetic macular edema – blood vessel leakage affecting the macula (the leading cause of diabetes-related vision loss)
- Diabetic retinopathy – damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye (usually less severe but more common)
- Cataracts – an increasing clouding of the eye lens
- Glaucoma – increased pressure within the eyeball.
If untreated, any of these conditions can be very serious. Overall, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of preventable severe vision loss and blindness in Australians under 50.
The underlying reason why diabetes is so hazardous to vision is that it hinders or prevents your body from controlling blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is too high for too long, the tiny blood vessels within the eyeball sustain various kinds of damage.