Diabetes and the Eyes

The National Eye Institute defines Diabetic Eye Disease as two conditions that affect the eyes of people with diabetes. both are defined below.

  • Diabetic Retinopathy – This is caused by high blood sugar that damages tiny blood vessels in the retina. The retina’s job is to detect light and send signals through the optic nerve to the brain. High blood sugar damages the blood vessels causing hemorrhaging (bleeding) which blurs vision. If gone unchecked new, abnormal blood vessels form on the retina and can lead to scarring and loss in the retina.
  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) – the Macula (part of the Retina) provides sharp, straight-ahead vision that is used for reading, recognition, and driving. When this is damaged due to high blood glucose, fluid builds up in the Macula, causing vision loss. About half of the people with diabetes have this problem.

What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy and DME?

There are no symptoms of either disease other than blurred or loss of vision. If not treated immediately, the risk of permanent loss of vision increases greatly.

How can the disease be detected?

Your eye doctor can perform a series of tests to determine whether someone with diabetes has Diabetic Retinopathy or DME (see the National Eye Institute website for more detailed information on tests). The results of the tests can determine changes in blood vessels, leaking, swelling, changes in the lens, and damage to the nerve tissue.

What can you do to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?

Damage to the eyes due to diabetes can sometimes be reversed if caught early and reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent. People with diabetes can prevent eye damage by doing two things:

  1. Control your diabetes. Controlling glucose levels slows the onset of Diabetic Retinopathy. Research shows that people who keep glucose levels close to normal are less likely to develop this disease.
  2. See your eye doctor two to three times a year. Early detection means there is a better chance of prevention. Only your eye doctor can determine through examination if you have Diabetic Retinopathy or DME.


For more information go to https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy.



9 thoughts on “Diabetes and the Eyes

  1. This is very informative! I was unaware that diabetes could affect your vision, I need to relay this info to my father who has diabetes also I am glad to see this because it is something that runs in my family.

  2. I’ve heard before that there was a correlation between the “red eye” effect that happens in pictures and diabetes. Something like if you had red eye well then you’re not diabetic. Or it may have been the complete opposite, lol.

    Nice post!

  3. I have heard of diabetes affecting people’s feet because of blood flow but never about the eyes. If someone has diabetes how long would it take for one of these symptoms to affect them?

    1. Yes, diabetes does affect the feet and my doctor checks my feet about three times per year. Symptom depend on how well someone is controlling their glucose level. If it is constantly high then it can happen very rapidly. for someone who keeps it in check it would happen slowly and maybe not at all.

  4. What a horrible disease diabetes is. It has turned into an epidemic here in the US. I personally know too many friends and acquaintances who suffer from it. Your article is simple and easy to understand. It is just the right amount of information to help us get informed. Very well done. By the way, your background picture is amazing. Where did you find it?

  5. Hey, I am glad I saw this post. I recently was told by my doctor he was going to classify me as diabetic but I am not at the point where I need medicine. I am a little worried because sometimes my vision does go blurry a little and I don’t see as good as I use to. I need to learn more about these different symptoms. Thanks for the information.

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