How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

Jun 05, 2023
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Diabetes leaves no aspect of your health untouched — it even affects your vision. If you ignore the signs, you risk significant impairment and blindness. Don’t get caught unawares; keep reading to learn about diabetes-related eye disease.

If you have diabetes, you know that managing your blood sugar levels and taking care of your overall health is crucial, but did you know that this condition can also affect your eyesight?

High blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels in your retina, the light-sensitive part of your eye responsible for sending visual information to your brain. That’s why people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing several eye diseases, including glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Sophia Barnes at Vision Corner in Houston, Texas, specializes in caring for folks with diabetes-related eye issues. Here’s a look at what you might face and how we can help.

The top three diabetes-related eye diseases

Some diabetes-related eye conditions are more prevalent than others. These are the top three we see in patients with diabetes.

1. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage your optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from your eye to your brain. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than those without this chronic health condition.

2. Cataracts

Cataracts occur when your eye's natural lens becomes cloudy, leading to blurry vision. While cataracts are a common eye problem in older adults, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing them at a younger age.

3. Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your retina. This can lead to vision loss and, in severe cases, blindness. Over time, diabetic retinopathy can worsen and progress to a more advanced stage known as proliferative retinopathy.

Other diabetes-related eye problems

Apart from the top three eye diseases, people with diabetes can also develop other eye problems.


This condition affects the macula, the central part of your retina that’s responsible for sharp, detailed vision. Maculopathy can cause blurry or distorted vision, making it difficult to read, drive, or recognize faces.

Proliferative retinopathy

This advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow on your retina's surface. These new blood vessels can leak blood and other fluids into your eye, causing vision loss and blindness.

Blurry vision

High blood sugar levels can cause the lens in your eye to swell, leading to blurred vision. This condition can occur in people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

How to spot the signs of diabetic eye problems

If you have diabetes, monitor your eye health regularly and look out for symptoms such as:

  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Dark spots or shadows in your vision
  • Flashes of light in your vision
  • Eye pain or pressure

If you experience any of these symptoms, they could point to diabetes-related eye disease, so schedule an appointment with Dr. Barnes immediately. 

Treatments for diabetes-related eye problems

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing diabetes-related eye problems. Depending on the severity of your condition, Dr. Barnes may recommend treatments such as:

  • Medications to control blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Laser surgery to reduce swelling and stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels
  • Vitrectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the gel-like substance inside the eye and replace it with a clear fluid

Although diabetes can significantly affect your eye health, regular eye exams and proper diabetes management can help prevent or delay vision loss. If you have diabetes, call or click to schedule an appointment at Vision Corner in Houston to keep your eyes healthy and your vision sharp.