Sunday, January 29, 2023

How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

July 1, 2015 by  
Filed under Featured

man receiving an eye exam

Diabetes has many complications. Eye problems are of particular concern to diabetics. Regular eye exams may help prevent serious complications.

Diabetes can wreak havoc with your eyes, and sometimes there are no early symptoms. So you may have no idea anything is wrong until your eyesight is in danger. Here are the main eye problems that can be caused, or made worse, by diabetes:


Many people without diabetes develop cataracts, however diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts. Diabetics also tend to develop cataracts at a younger age and the condition progresses faster. Cataracts cloud the normally clear eye lens and block light.

To help deal with mild cataracts, you might want to wear sunglasses more often and make sure to use glare control lenses. If your cataracts greatly impair your vision your doctor might remove the lens of the eye and replace it.


If you have diabetes you are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma than people without diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the older you are also increases the risk of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. The pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually deteriorated as the retina and optic nerve are damaged. There are several treatments for glaucoma including drugs that reduce the pressure and surgery.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative. There are several factors that influence whether or not you will develop retinopathy including; blood sugar control, blood pressure, length of time you have had diabetes, and genetics.

Nonproliferative Retinopathy

In nonproliferative retinopathy, the most common form of retinopathy, capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pouches.  Nonproliferative retinopathy can move through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe), as more and more blood vessels become blocked.

Proliferative Retinopathy

In some people, retinopathy progresses after several years to a more serious form called proliferative retinopathy. In this form, the blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision, which is a condition called vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place, a condition called retinal detachment.

The longer you have had diabetes, the more likely you are to have retinopathy. Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes will eventually have nonproliferative retinopathy. And most people with type 2 diabetes will also get it. But the retinopathy that destroys vision, proliferative retinopathy, is far less common.

People who keep their blood sugar levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy or to have milder forms.

Your retina can be badly damaged before you notice any change in vision. Most people with nonproliferative retinopathy have no symptoms. Even with proliferative retinopathy, the more dangerous form, people sometimes have no symptoms until it is too late to treat them. For this reason, you should have your eyes examined regularly by an eye-care professional.


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