Even though diabetes can cause several permanent changes to vision, including diabetic retinopathy and increased risk for glaucoma and cataracts, your daily blood sugar levels can also affect your eyes in a more temporary (but still troubling) manner. Here's what you need to know about the connection between blood sugar levels and your ability to see. Monitoring your blood sugar is more important for your daily vision health than you might think.
When your body has high levels of blood glucose, the shape of your eye can actually change temporarily. This is due in part to increased or decreased fluid levels in the eye due to fluctuations in blood pressure and the balance of ions in eye fluids. Since the lens changes shape, you can experience blurriness after eating a large meal or after indulging in a high-sugar snack.
As your blood sugar returns to normal levels through the administration of insulin or with controlled diet (in the case of Type 2 diabetes), vision blurriness should subside. However, it should be taken seriously, because the increased stress on the lens of your eye is what increased your risk for cataracts and other, more permanent vision problems.
People often forget that diabetics not only have a hard time controlling high blood sugar levels, but they also have trouble when blood sugar drops. This is more easily remedied—you can eat something high in sugar to help bring yourself back up to normal.
Blurry vision can also occur with low blood sugar, but this time is it not a problem because of changes within the eye. Your brain uses glucose as a primary fuel source. Without adequate fuel, your nerves and nerve connections will not be able to function properly. Your vision is affected because the brain may be sluggish in receiving and interpreting the signals from the optic nerve.
Prevention and Management
It's best to accept the risks that come from diabetes, including the increased risk to your vision. The best way to preserve the health of your eyes to is take preventative measures, including:
- getting annual eye exams to check for the development of retinopathy, glaucoma, or cataracts.
- eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals. It's especially important to make leafy greens, bright vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits a priority.
- wearing eye protection in the sun.
- monitoring your blood glucose through diet and proper insulin injections or with an insulin pump.
Click here to find out more about diabetic eye treatment.