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COVID-19 and Increased Risk of Diabetes

The longer scientists spend studying the COVID-19 pandemic, the more they seem to learn about the full impact of this virus and its potential to cause long-term side effects.

Now, new research shows a connection between COVID-19 and increased risk of diabetes. More specifically, those who had COVID-19 were shown to be at roughly a 40 percent higher risk of a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. They were also at increased risk of requiring medication to help manage their blood sugar levels.

Why might COVID-19 be associated with diabetes?

The increased risk of diabetes wasn’t just limited to those who experienced severe COVID symptoms. Rather, the heightened risk of diabetes affected patients who had mild COVID cases, as well.

Why the risk of diabetes jumped in those who have been infected with COVID is still unclear, but some experts believe that COVID-19 may damage the pancreas, causing issues with blood sugar control.

This happens because COVID-19 is thought to trigger an autoimmune response in some people, causing the body to attack itself, destroying cells in the pancreas that are vitally involved in insulin production.

Over time, this causes insulin resistance and inflammation in the pancreas. The end result is diabetes.

Common Signs of Diabetes After COVID-19 Infection

Common early signs of diabetes after COVID-19 infection include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased thirst and hunger

If you’re experiencing any or all of these symptoms after having been infected with COVID-19, contact your doctor to be screened for diabetes.

Want to learn more about diabetes and COVID-19? Contact us at today!

Q&A

Can diabetes affect your eyes?

Yes. Diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of eye disease. The most common eye condition linked to diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels in the eye begin to bleed, damaging the delicate structures of the eye, namely the retina and macula. This can result in extensive vision loss, including blindness.

Can diabetic retinopathy be prevented?

Yes. A person with diabetes can lower their risk of diabetic retinopathy by consistently maintaining their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol within healthy limits. This can be done through good diet and exercise habits, though some may also require medication.

Do You Get Blurred Vision After Eating?

Have you ever gotten up from the table after enjoying a meal and noticed that things appeared fuzzy or blurry? If so, you may have experienced a temporary spike in blood sugar that affected your eyes. 

If your vision is often blurred after meals, you should schedule a visit to your optometrist and general practitioner to rule out diabetes and other conditions. 

The Link Between Blood Sugar and Vision

Diabetes is characterized by excessively high blood sugar levels. In some people it causes food to be digested faster than usual, leading to rapid spikes in blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar can lead to fluid to build up in the eyes, resulting in blurry vision. 

The eye’s natural crystalline lens and cornea are responsible for focusing light onto the retina for clear vision. The lens changes its shape to accommodate focusing on near or far objects. In some cases, when the eye swells due to excess fluid resulting from the high blood sugar, it temporarily doesn’t focus light with the same accuracy. 

Foods that are high in sugar and other carbohydrates are most likely to cause blood sugar to spike. Some examples include:

  • White rice and pasta
  • Most breakfast cereals
  • Potatoes in all forms 
  • Sugary sodas and beverages
  • Candies and baked goods
  • Fruit juice

Other Possible Causes of Temporary Blurred Vision

Temporary eyesight changes don’t always mean diabetes. Intermittent blurred vision can be caused by other problems or conditions, including: 

  • Carotid stenosis
  • Migraines
  • Certain medications
  • Eye strain
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Keratitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration

Many of these conditions will also present with symptoms other than blurred vision, so be sure to be open with your optometrist if you experience any unusual visual symptoms. 

If you notice blurred vision only following a high-carb meal, it may be worth tracking your meals and symptoms to try and find a pattern. This information will be valuable for your optometrist and other health care professionals. 

How We Can Help 

At Child & Family Eye Care, we offer a wide range of eye care services, such as eye exams and eye disease management, including diabetic eye disease. If you’re concerned about temporary blurred vision after eating or any other visual symptoms, contact us to schedule your comprehensive eye exam. 

If signs of diabetes are discovered during your visit, don’t worry. We’ll explain the next steps to take, to ensure the best possible outcome. Our goal is to provide top-notch eye care delivered with a smile for all of our patients. 

To schedule your eye exam, call Child & Family Eye Care in The Woodlands today!

Q&A

How often do I need an eye exam? 

The American Optometric Association recommends that adults have their eyes checked by an optometrist every 1-2 years. For high risk patients, patients who wear glasses or contact lenses, or those over the age of 65, annual eye exams are recommended. Certain conditions like diabetes may make it necessary to visit your optometrist more often. 

Does being diabetic make a person more likely to experience vision loss?

Diabetes can negatively impact your eyes in more ways than one, but preventing vision loss and blindness is becoming easier with new technology and treatments. Having undiagnosed diabetic retinopathy puts a person at a much greater risk of going blind. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to schedule regular diabetic eye exams including retinal scans, to significantly reduce the chances of experiencing permanent vision loss.