How T1D Affects Eye Health
The retina is a thin layer of specialized nerve tissue on the back wall of the eye. It converts light into electric signals that are transmitted to the brain where the images we “see” are generated. The center of the retina, called the macula, is responsible for the sharp clear vision needed for reading and other daily tasks. Abnormal leaking from blood vessels damaged by diabetes can lead to swelling of the macula and vision loss.
Diabetes can also cause direct damage to nerve cells of the eye, including cells in the periphery of the retina. These changes stimulate the development of abnormal blood vessels, which are fragile and can bleed and further destroy the nerve tissue around them, scarring the retina and putting people at high risk for low vision and blindness. High levels of blood sugar, as in diabetes, damage the blood vessels and exacerbate the process.