If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, you'll want to visit your eye doctor regularly for a diabetic eye exam. Subtle changes in your eyes because of this disease can result in significant vision problems. Here are some of the ways diabetes affects your eyes and how your doctor will help you to keep your vision healthy.

Pressure in the Eye

Glaucoma is the buildup of pressure in the eye because the mechanism that regulates the amount of fluid in your eye is not working properly. As this problem becomes worse, pressure is placed on the blood vessels that nourish the retina. The blood supply gets cut off and the retina becomes damaged. You'll notice your vision becoming blurry and objects may appear with a ring of light around them as the retina stops responding to light.

Your eye doctor will check the amount of pressure in the eye. If it becomes dangerously high, medication in eye drop form can be used to reduce the pressure. In extreme cases, surgery can be done to open up a channel in the eye and relieve the pressure on the retina.

Cloudy Lenses

Diabetes allows the buildup of protein deposits in your lens, which results in cataracts. This protein layer creates an obstruction to the light entering your eye resulting in darker, blurry vision. As the cataracts get worse, it becomes harder to focus and you'll need more light to see and read.

Early in this eye disease, your eye doctor will have you wear reading glasses. Eventually the problem becomes serious enough to restrict your vision and the cataracts must be surgically removed. The foggy lenses are removed and replace with artificial lenses that aren't vulnerable to cataracts.

Retinal Disease

Diabetes affects blood vessels in the eye which can result in damage to the retina. Vision loss is possible with serious retinal damage resulting in blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is the term used to categorize two forms of retinal disease.

Nonproliferative Retinopathy

Tiny blood vessels in your eye become swollen and allow blood to leak out of them onto the back of the eye. The pooled blood blocks light from hitting the retina. Your vision becomes blurry and it's harder to focus on objects clearly. As the leaking blood increases, you'll see shadows in your vision followed by dark areas and partial vision loss. Your eye doctor can treat this with medication and use laser surgery to dry up the areas of pooled blood.

Proliferative Retinopathy

Your eye may develop new, tiny, weaker blood vessels in the eye. They also allow blood to leak out of them, but they also develop scar tissue on the retina. The scar tissue pulls on the retina causing partial loss of vision. There is a risk that the retina will be pulled away from the back of the eye causing blindness. Laser treatment will destroy these weak blood vessels. A retina at risk of detaching can be anchored back onto the eye before you lose your sight.

The key to preventing any of these diabetic eye diseases from affecting your vision is early detection and treatment. If you keep your diabetes under control, the progress of  these eye damage will be slow. You still want to see your eye doctor every year for a complete eye exam to catch any issues before they can impact your vision.