Eye health for people with diabetes
Help prevent eye disease with regular eye exams.
In diabetic eye disease, high blood glucose and high blood pressure cause small blood vessels to swell and leak liquid into the retina of the eye, blurring the vision and sometimes leading to blindness. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens and glaucoma, and optic nerve damage. Laser surgery can help these conditions.
There’s a lot you can do to prevent eye problems. A recent study shows that keeping your blood glucose level closer to normal can prevent or delay the onset of diabetic eye disease. Keeping your blood pressure under control is also important. Finding and treating eye problems early can help save sight.
It is best to have an eye doctor give you a dilated eye exam at least once a year. The doctor will use eye drops to enlarge (dilate) your pupils to examine the backs of your eyes. Your eyes will be checked for signs of cataracts or glaucoma, problems that people with diabetes are more likely to get.
Because diabetic eye disease may develop without symptoms,regular eye exams are important for finding problems early. Some people may notice signs of vision changes. If you’re having trouble reading, if your vision is blurred, or if you’re seeing rings around lights, dark spots, or flashing lights, you may have eye problems. Be sure to tell your health care team or eye doctor about any eye problems and disease diagnoses you may have.
See the following for more information:
- Eye Problems from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) publication, Take Charge of Your Diabetes.
- Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep Your Eyes Healthy, a fact sheet from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
- Vision Health Initiative
See Diabetes and Me: Learn About Diabetes for more general information about living with diabetes.