How Diabetes May Make You Get Cataracts Earlier

Sep 19, 2022

Diabetes blog cover


How Diabetes May Make You Get Cataracts Earlier 

September has finally descended on Chattanooga, bringing sweet relief from the heat and the promise of colorful mountain foliage just over the horizon. Halloween and its candy are just over a month away, then the holiday season will arrive in full-force, with all its sweet treats beckoning us to indulge—even if we know restraint is better for us in the long run. 

Although sugar itself doesn’t technically cause diabetes (the causes can be complex), it certainly can speed up the process. ….Americans currently have pre-diabetes, while …have Type 2 diabetes. This endocrine system disorder can wreak all kinds of havoc on the body, including the eyes. One common way diabetes injures the eye is through the early formation of cataracts. 

What are cataracts, and what do they feel like? 

Cataracts are cloudy areas that form on the eye’s lens as proteins break down and clump together. The lens is normally clear, so when cataracts form, it can feel like viewing life through a dusty window.  

Other signs and symptoms of cataracts include decreased night vision, needing more light to read, and colors having a faded or yellow cast. You may also experience extra sensitivity to bright lights. This is often most dramatic while driving at night, when other cars’ headlights may harshly glare.  

How does high blood sugar contribute to cataract formation? 

People with diabetes or pre-diabetes often have high blood glucose (sugar) levels. This can make your lenses swell, causing blurry vision. This temporary blurring usually goes away once your blood glucose levels return to normal. 

However, since sugar is an inflammatory food, it accelerates cell deterioration throughout the body. When eye lenses chronically experience this type of cell damage, it results in the permanent clouding known as cataracts. Some diabetics say that it seemed their cataracts formed quickly, as if overnight.  

How are cataracts treated? 

The only actual cure for cataracts is surgery, where the cloudy, damaged lens is replaced with a clear artificial intraocular lens (IOL). There are several types of IOL options, from basic monofocal (or one distance) lenses to multifocal lenses that provide clear vision at multiple distances.   

Dr. Matzkin is a leading provider of IOL replacement surgery in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. Check out the testimonials we have from patients who’ve had IOL replacement surgery at Allied Eye! Many report having better vision than ever before. 

What can I do to keep diabetes from harming my eyesight? 

Good blood glucose control is key to avoiding—or at least delaying—common diabetes complications, including cataracts. Follow your endocrinologist’s advice for diet and medication, and if eating healthy is a struggle, see a dietician.  

The quality of sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods has greatly improved in recent years, so don’t be afraid to try low- or no-sugar versions of your favorite treats. You might be surprised to discover that a Reese’s Zero Sugar Cup is practically undetectable from the sugar-laden version. 

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, routine comprehensive eye exams are a must. If it’s been a year or more since your last appointment, or you’re noticing the signs and symptoms of cataracts, call or text us today at (423) 855-8522. Our kind and professional eye care team is ready to help you achieve your best vision possible!