Diabetes and Eye Health
Most of us know of someone with diabetes, children, parents, grandparents, friends, and colleagues. Of those people, most of us know some have encountered difficulties with the disease, whether it be blood sugar control, dietary concerns, surgeries and more. This blog is to bring to light some general information about diabetes and our eyes. November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month, and we want you to be informed. So read, like, comment, and please share! THERE IS NO CURE FOR DIABETES – BUT – we can continue to educate and promote to find the cure!

Diabetes is the leading cause
of vision loss for Americans
under the age of 74 (aoa.org).

What is diabetes and diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetes is systemic condition that interferes with the body’s ability use and store sugar (glucose). This leads to too much sugar in the blood which can cause damage to these blood vessels throughout the entire body, including our eyes. As this damage occurs, the tiny blood vessels in the retina start to leak out blood and other fluids. The leakage can then lead to swelling and deterioration of precious retinal tissue. This is called diabetic retinopathy.

Normal Retina

Diabetic Retinopathy

Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy

As with most disease processes, there are various stages of diabetic retinopathy, from mild to severe; the most severe may result in secondary eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, thus may end with blindness. 

The incidence of diabetic retinopathy
has increased among Americans
over age 40 by more than 89%
since the year 2000.

What are some risk factors of diabetic retinopathy?

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Uncontrolled/poorly controlled blood sugar levels

     What are symptoms of diabetic retinopathy? How will I know if I have it?

  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficulty seeing well at night

While people with diabetes may not have any of these symptoms, this does not mean they do not have early diabetic retinopathy.  Also, some patients have not been diagnosed with diabetes until they have a comprehensive eye exam and the eye doctor may find some retinal changes.

What can you do? —- Be Proactive!

  • Continued dedication to a healthy lifestyle of watching daily blood sugar levels and carbohydrate intake
  • Routine daily activity
  • Know your numbers (blood sugar average, HbA1c)
  • Routine doctor’s visits
  • No smoking


For more information see:

American Optometric Association:  https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/diabetic-retinopathy

American Diabetic Association: http://www.diabetes.org/?referrer=https://www.google.com/