Have you had Covid-19? After your fever and cough have subsided, you may think the virus is behind you. However, even after your Covid test comes back negative, you may experience health problems in the near future, including diabetes.
Recent studies have found that a significant percentage of post-Covid-19 patients developed diabetes within a year of contracting the virus. This is particularly problematic, as diabetes raises the risk of developing many health problems, including several sight-threatening eye conditions that can rob people of their vision.
What Does the Research Show?
A March 2022 Lancet study that evaluated the records of 181,280 U.S. military veterans found a 40% higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes in those who had Covid. Although those at greatest risk were over 65, African American and/or had underlying health conditions, many younger patients also developed Type 2 diabetes.
A study published in January 2022 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that children and teens under 18 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis (both Type 1 and Type 2) at least 30 days after infection than those who never contracted Covid.
Scientists are investigating exactly why Covid-19 raises the risk of developing diabetes. In many cases, it’s believed that the virus targets pancreatic cells, which are responsible for making insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. A lack of insulin causes diabetes.
Some scientists also theorize that inactivity and weight gain due to lockdowns and quarantines may have raised the risk of developing diabetes.
Diabetes is linked to many eye conditions, including:
Blurry Vision - High blood sugar drives the lens inside your eye to swell, causing your vision to blur.
Cataracts - Diabetes can cause cataracts, cloudy patches that form in the lens of the eye.
Glaucoma - This disease develops from high pressure inside the eye and can lead to severe vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy - High blood sugar levels damage the small fragile blood vessels on the retina, leading to vision loss.
Maculopathy - Swelling of the macula, the center of the retina, can make it difficult to drive, read or see detail.
Some of these conditions have no noticeable symptoms during their early stages when it’s still possible to prevent or minimize vision loss. So having regular comprehensive eye exams is crucial.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Post-Covid
Even after you’ve recovered from Covid, you may still be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. So, along with people who have a family history of the disease, make sure to book a comprehensive eye exam, eat a healthy and balanced diet, don’t smoke, maintain your appropriate weight, and ask your physician to monitor your blood sugar levels.
Also, if you have any eye symptoms, such as blurry vision, schedule an appointment with Vision Source Specialists immediately. Remaining vigilant and aware of the risks can help safeguard your vision thanks to early intervention and treatment.
Are you concerned about the effect having Covid may have on your eyes? Schedule an appointment with Vision Source Specialists today!
Our practice serves patients from Rapid City, Philip, Spearfish, and Gillette, South Dakota and surrounding communities.
Q: What is a diabetic retinal eye exam?
A: A diabetic retinal [eye__exam] checks for diabetic retinopathy, a condition that affects the small thin blood vessels in the retina located at the back of the eye. Your optometrist will place eye drops into your eye to open your pupils so they can more easily see the back of your eye. They may take digital images to inspect blood vessels: these full-color 3D images show the cross-section of the retina and measure the retinal thickness to help your optometrist detect any fluid or blood leakage.
Q: How common is vision loss with diabetes?
A: People with diabetes are more likely to experience eye and vision problems. Among people over 45 diagnosed with diabetes, 17.6% experience some degree of vision loss.
- 9.2% is caused by cataracts
- 4.1% is caused by diabetic retinopathy
- 2.2% is caused by macular degeneration
- 2.1% is caused by glaucoma. Therefore, anyone diagnosed with or with risk factors for diabetes should have regular eye exams to protect their vision and eye health.