Blurry or blurred vision is defined as the inability of the eye to see minute details. A person with blurred vision will lack the sharpness that is required whenever they see an object. It can be best explained as a part of a photograph that is out of focus. Out of the many reasons for a person to have blurred vision, diabetes is one. Eye complications can occur in people with diabetes both long term and short term.[1,2,3]
Sometimes, the blurriness of vision may come on gradually or rapidly depending on the cause. In fact, blurred vision is quite a well-known complication of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. This at times is the first presenting feature in people with type 1 diabetes. This result in a delay in diagnosis and starting treatment until the time the classic symptoms of diabetes appear in a person.[1,2,3] The article below highlights how diabetes and blurry vision are connected and what can be done about it.
How Is Blurry Vision And Diabetes Connected?
It has been proved beyond doubt that diabetes affects the vision of a person. These effects can be both long term as well as short term. If diabetes is not controlled for a prolonged period of time then the high sugar levels start to damage the small blood vessels. This ultimately leads to damage to the retina and cause blurred vision.
In the short-term, high blood sugar levels cause fluids to move in and out of the eyes. This causes swelling of the lens resulting in blurred vision. This is because it is the lens that focuses on objects in such a way that they appear sharp and clear to a person. Blurred vision arising out of this tends to resolve once the sugar levels normalize.
Hypoglycemia that is low blood sugar levels can also affect the eyes and cause blurred vision. In diabetics, taking insulin is of utmost importance to prevent complications. For people with diabetes taking insulin is of immense importance. However, any change in food pattern or timing or activity levels can affect the sugar levels significantly and make it to fall causing hypoglycemia. This may cause blurriness of vision. However, this is not due to any damage to the eyes but it is more a result of how the brain gets affected by low blood sugar levels.
Blurriness of vision due to diabetes can be caused due to temporary issues like fluctuations in blood sugar levels as well as certain long term complications of uncontrolled diabetes like damage to the retina. This can occur in one or both eyes and is generally gradual spanning over many years. The damage caused due to this is generally permanent even though with treatment their progression can be slowed down.[2,3]
It is recommended to see an ophthalmologist if blurriness of vision appears suddenly and tends to get worse with time. Eye problems may arise due to existing diabetes or may be the first symptom of an undiagnosed case of diabetes. It is vital for diabetics to go for routine eye checkup to ensure that there is no damage being done to the eyes. If any damage to the retina is observed due to diabetes then the patient will be asked to come for regular follow-ups for close monitoring.[2,3]
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common complication of uncontrolled diabetes. This is a progressive disease and becomes worse with time. There are two stages to this disease namely non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In the former, initially there will be no symptoms. In this stage, the retina is not damaged but the blood vessels become weak and blocked. Sometimes, fluid may leak out from the retina causing it to swell up. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy can range from mild to severe depending on his badly the blood vessels are damaged. As the disease progresses, a person will start having blurriness of vision.[2,3]
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy on the other hand is generally seen during advanced stage of complications. In this condition, the blood vessels in the retina are no longer able to deliver blood to the retina as a result of which new blood vessels start to grow. This usually happens after several years of uncontrolled diabetes. The growth of new blood vessels do not help in providing ample amount of blood to the retina and additionally cause formation of scar tissues thereby affecting the vision. The retina may then get detached causing complete vision loss.[2,3]
The new vessels may also at times bleed causing vision disturbances including blurriness of vision. If the bleeding is significant there may also be significant vision loss in which a person will only be able to distinguish light from dark. Another condition that is seen in diabetics with respect to the eyes is glaucoma. This condition occurs when there is excess pressure in the eyes affecting the optic nerve resulting in vision problems including blurriness of vision. Both these conditions can be managed if they are diagnosed early and diabetes is well-controlled.[2,3]
There are also certain lifestyle changes that a diabetic has to make to ensure that their eye symptoms do not get worse. The person should ensure that the blood sugars are in control. This can be done by taking insulin doses at the prescribed time and dose and checking blood sugars at least three times a day. This will help in slowing down the progression of conditions like retinopathy.
It will also help in preventing in new ophthalmologic complications that may arise due to uncontrolled diabetes. Along with blood sugar blood pressure should be also controlled as it is yet another risk factor for eye problems. In cases where retinopathy is severe then the physician will prescribe steroid eyedrops to control the progression.
The physician may also inject anti-VGEF which is a medication to prevent new blood vessels from forming in the eyes. Laser treatment is also quite effective in reducing swelling in the retina and helps in preventing growth of new blood vessels that can distort vision more.