eye research

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?

February 2, 2023

Hye Seon Yoo, O.D., Chicago College of Optometry, Eye Institute

37.3 million Americans, or one-in-ten, have diabetes. It is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults in the United States.

Diabetes can damage your eyes over time, eventually causing vision loss or even permanent blindness. When the tiny blood vessels that supply the retina (the light sensitive structure in the back of the eye) are damaged by the high blood sugar levels, they can become leaky or close off, starving the retinal tissue of blood supply. The changes to the retina from diabetes is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes can also make you more likely to have other eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.

You can have 20/20 vision and still have diabetic retinopathy. Some early signs include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Redness or pain in your eyes
  • Floaters
  • Dry eyes
  • Loss of peripheral vision

It’s important for people with diabetes to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year, since there may not be any symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Early detection and treatment may prevent future vision problems and blindness.

Lower the chance for vision loss by keeping TRACK of your diabetes:

  • Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Add more physical activity
  • Control your ABS- A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Kick the smoking habit




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