Diabetes and Vision Loss: Know the Connection, Take Steps to Prevent Eye Problems

Diabetes and Vision Loss: Know the Connection, Take Steps to Prevent Eye Problems

People living with diabetes may have eye problems leading to vision loss or blindness. The longer you have diabetes, the greater your chance of getting diabetic eye disease. The risk is also greater for African-Americans and Hispanics in the U.S.

Acommon type of diabetic eye disease is “diabetic retinopathy.” It applies to health issues that hurt the retina, which is a thin group of cells at the back of the eye. When light hits, the retina sends signals to the brain in the form of visual images.

Warning signs of retinal disease may include:

  • Spots in your vision
  • Blurry vision
  • An empty spot at the center of your field of vision.

In early stages, there may be no warning at all. That’s why it’s so vital to have an eye exam each year. Finding out early and getting care can help treat vision loss before it gets worse. Keeping blood sugar levels close to normal also helps protect eyes.
But there is good news! Treatments are available. One uses a laser to seal blood leaks.

Diabetes is tied to other eye diseases as well that can harm reading, recognition and even lead to blindness, such as:

  • Diabetic macular edema. Fluid builds up in the macula at the core of the retina. About half of all people with diabetic retinopathy will one day get diabetic macular edema.
  • Cataracts. This happens when eye lens clouds over and blocks light.
  • Cataracts are common among older adults. The chance of getting them is higher and at a younger age for people with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma. Diabetes increases the risk if getting glaucoma. It occurs when pressure builds in the eye. This pressure can harm blood vessels to your eye’s nerve and can cause blindness.

Take steps to protect your eyes. Begin to control diabetes by eating well, being active and taking your meds. Yearly eye exams are the best way to spot problems early. That’s when they’re easiest to treat. You might even save your eyesight.

For more on eye care, visit the American Diabetes Association.


Last updated: 4/4/2019