Diabetes is a medical condition that occurs when the body is not able to control the amount of glucose in the blood due to a lack of insulin. Glucose is normally transported by the bloodstream to other parts of the body to be used as energy, but without the proper amounts of insulin, the sugar may build up in the blood and prevent the body from performing its normal functions properly. Having diabetes may make a person more likely to suffer from a variety of vision problems, which are often collectively referred to as diabetic eye disease. This condition may not have symptoms manifest until the problems are in a more advanced stage; therefore, diabetics are often recommended to have regular eye checkups so a doctor can check for any changes in the eyes before they worsen.
There are three main eye conditions in which diabetics may be more susceptible: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts occur when a film builds over the eye lenses, while glaucoma occurs when there is high pressure within the eyes as a result of excessive fluid. Although cataracts and glaucoma can occur in anyone, especially as people age, people with diabetes are more likely to get them earlier in life; therefore, they are typically included in the label "diabetic eye disease." Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.
One of the symptoms that any diabetic eye disease can cause is blurred vision. With cataracts, this blurred vision is the result of the film developing over the eyes and obstructing vision. Blurred vision can also occur if a person is suffering from glaucoma because the excessive fluid that builds up in the eyes may damage the nerves of the eyes. A symptom of diabetic retinopathy may also be decreased vision clarity if the macula, the area in the center of the tissue in the back of the eye, becomes enlarged with excessive fluid.
Bleeding in the eyes is often a symptom of diabetic retinopathy and is typically the result of damaged blood vessels in the eyes that begin to leak. Although a person may not necessarily feel any pain as a result of this bleeding, he or she may notice small dark spots that appear to float in his or her line of vision. If a person does not seek treatment to repair the damaged blood vessels, blood may continue to accumulate in the eye and lead to permanent vision loss.