The Effects of Diabetes on Eyesight

Family Eye Care - Hendersonville, TN

Regular, professional eye care is vital to managing diabetes. This diagnosis is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 20 to 75. One major effect of the condition is high blood sugar, which causes the lenses in the eyes to swell, increasing the risk of vision problems. People with diabetes have special needs pertaining to eyesight. It can impact the eyes in many ways, including:

  • Glaucoma – When excess pressure develops inside the eye, it damages blood vessels and nerves. This pressure often results in headaches, and does not impact eyesight until it has progressed significantly.
  • Cataracts – When the lens becomes cloudy, the ability to focus light decreases. Those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at an earlier age than the general population, and the disease progresses more rapidly than in people who do not have diabetes.
  • Retinopathy – One of the most common vascular complications related to diabetes is destruction of blood vessels, including the small blood vessels in the eyes. This damage, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.



Annual glaucoma screenings are the best way to prevent the buildup of pressure in the eyes. This is an important test because the signs of glaucoma are often missed by patients until the disease has progressed significantly. Symptoms of glaucoma include headaches, blurred vision, and loss of vision. The risk of developing cataracts can be decreased by avoiding smoking and excess alcohol, as well as by wearing sunglasses to protect from UV exposure. To reduce the chances of developing retinopathy, control blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure as much as possible. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the chance that he or she will develop retinopathy.



  • Glaucoma – Medications work well to treat the early stages of glaucoma. Depending on the stage, treatment includes eye drops, laser treatments, and surgery. The goals are to reduce pressure and increase drainage.
  • Cataracts – The primary treatment for cataracts is surgery. The cloudy or damaged lens is cleaned, removed, and replaced with a clear artificial lens.
  • Retinopathy – The treatment for retinopathy is usually surgery. Laser therapy has effectively reduced the number of patients suffering from blindness.


When it comes to caring for your vision in conjunction with diabetes, it is vital to seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible. Contact your optometrist if you notice any vision changes. With regular and consistent care, you can keep your eyes in the best condition possible.