Why Does Diabetes Cause Blindness?

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Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness because excess sugar in the blood causes the blood vessels leading to the retina to shut down. Visit an eye doctor regularly, particularly if vision problems are noticed, to keep diabetes from leading to blindness with advice from a family nurse practitioner in this free video on diabetes.

Part of the Video Series: Diabetes Symptoms & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hello you may have asked yourself why does diabetes cause blindness. My name is Sonya Wade and I'm an Assistant Professor and Family Nurse Practitioner at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and if you have asked yourself that question I would like to help you with that information today. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in the United States. The reason that diabetes causes blindness in those particular populations is because the retina, the part of the eye at the very back that focuses and gives you sharp detailed vision, when you have high levels of sugar in the bloodstream and that bloodstream has molecules with sugar attached to the red blood cells you will see that those molecules that get sticky and sluggish and it is hard for those with the high sugar content to pass through the vessel. After years of having that effect on the vessels and with the eyes having some of the smallest vessels in the body that can cause individuals to start experiencing some visual changes. What leads to the blindness is people typically delay in seeking attention to address the visual changes they may be experiencing and then there are individuals who may not have any symptoms at all but they still have problems that are occurring deep within their eyes that only a professional would be able to diagnose and so we would encourage you to see your healthcare provider so that between you and your provider you can decide if you need to be sent to a specialist, a special eye doctor, possibly an ophthalmologist so that your eyes can be checked so that we can make sure that you are not having visual changes that need to be addressed. If you continue to keep your blood sugars at normal range and your blood pressure at normal range and you seek early help for any symptom changes in your vision the diabetes certainly can be delayed.

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