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If you have diabetes, you are at higher risk for certain eye conditions. With proper care, these conditions usually remain minor, but it’s important to know how your diabetes can affect your eyesight.


According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics are 40% more likely to have glaucoma. Glaucoma is the build-up of pressure in the eye. This pressure constricts blood vessels that carry blood into important parts of your eye, reducing vision and damaging nerve fibers. Glaucoma is treated by medication, lasers, and/or surgery.


Cataracts are a common eye condition, especially in older individuals. If you have diabetes, you are 60% more likely to develop cataracts. A cataract is a cloudy lens in the eye that interferes with light transmission and reduces your vision.

If you already have mild cataracts, wearing sunglasses can reduce glare and increase your vision. When cataracts are bad enough, consider surgery. Cataract surgery is a common procedure that removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear one.


There are two major types of retinopathy, a term for all retinal disorders caused by diabetes.

1. Nonproliferative retinopathy is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy in which symptoms may be mild or go unnoticed. In nonproliferative retinopathy, the blood vessels in the back of the eye begin to weaken, causing tiny bulges which may leak fluid and cause the retina to swell.

2. Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced form of diabetic retinopathy and has the greatest risk of vision loss. At this stage, poor circulation can cause the retina to become deprived of oxygen, causing abnormal blood vessels, retinal hemorrhages, or blocked blood flow. Other complications can include retinal detachments due to scar tissue or the development of glaucoma.

There are several treatments for retinopathy that prevent blindness in the majority of people. They key to treating retinopathy is to begin treatment early.

Eye Care

With proper care, eyesight complications from diabetes frequently do not become serious. The American Diabetes Association provides several ways you can care for your eyes if you are diabetic:

1. Control blood sugar levels

2. Control high blood pressure

3. Stop smoking

4. Have a dilated eye exam at least once per year

5. Talk to your doctor if you are having any eye problems such as blurry vision, pain in the eye, increased eye pressure, or other ocular issues.