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There are several problems caused by having a high blood glucose level over a long period of time. A common problem in people with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which is damage to the eyes.
Small blood vessels provide your eyes with the oxygen and nutrients they require to function properly. When you have high blood glucose levels over a long period of time, the cells that make up these small blood vessels become damaged.
When the cells become damaged, the blood vessels weaken, and protein leaks through the blood vessel walls into the clear fluid of the eye. This damage results in parts of the eye losing its oxygen and nutrient supply.
In the early stages, you may not have any symptoms when the blood vessels leak protein, or you might see small floaters that go away.
The loss of nutrients to parts of the retina signals the body to form new blood vessels. In a person with diabetes, these new blood vessels are weak and can cause swelling and bleeding inside the eye. This can create more damage to your vision and can lead to blindness.
You can reduce your risk of blindness with appropriate care and treatment. Because small blood vessel damage can be seen and treated by your eye doctor before you experience any symptoms, it is important to have a yearly dilated eye exam.