Three Eye Diseases Caused By Diabetes

Although glaucoma is probably the most commonly known eye disease related to diabetes, there are actually several serious eye problems that can result from uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Here are three that you may develop if you suffer from diabetes and what you can do to avoid these eye issues.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Excess sugar in the blood damages blood vessels and weakens them over time if blood sugar levels are not tightly controlled. Although the result of this long-term damage shows up most often in the extremities, it can also lead to an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina that interfere with your vision. High blood sugar levels cause damage to existing blood vessels that lead them to leak, swell, and eventually fail. Your body attempts to fix the problem by growing more blood vessels in the area. Unfortunately, these new blood vessels can actually crowd or bleed into the retina, blocking your vision.

This eye disease is progressive and, like with glaucoma, is usually asymptomatic in the beginning stages. The only way to catch it early is with a dilated eye exam. If the ophthalmologist suspects you have this disease, he or she may also do a fluorescein angiography—a procedure involving injecting dye into the veins in the eye—to confirm the diagnosis.

Treating the disease and preventing further damage typically involves the use of medication to control your blood sugar, reduce optic pressure, and decrease swelling. In some cases, laser surgery may be required to close blood vessels that are leaking fluid into the eye. The best way to avoid complications associated with diabetic retinopathy is to maintain a healthy blood sugar level and keep your blood pressure under control.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Another eye disease you can develop because of diabetes is diabetic macular edema (DME). This eye condition is characterized by fluid accumulation in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for high visual acuity. According to some statistics, 28 percent of diabetics experience eye trouble due to this disease.

People with this disease typically suffer from blurry and/or double vision, floaters, and eventually blindness (if left untreated). It should be noted that you can only develop diabetic macular edema if you already suffer from diabetic retinopathy, because DME is the direct result of fluid leaking in the retina as a result of weak blood vessels. Therefore, the best way to prevent the onset of this disease is to treat diabetic retinopathy in its early stages to stop the damage to the blood vessels.

However, it may be possible to improve or restore vision lost to DME by undergoing laser surgery to stop the leaking into the macula. Regardless of where you are in the progression or treatment of the disease, making lifestyle changes to strengthen the blood vessels in your body (e.g. eating fish and fresh vegetables) may also help impede the onset of this disease.


Cataracts actually have a number of causes, but you are more likely to get them if you have uncontrolled diabetes. This is because when you have excess sugar in your blood, it gets into the aqueous humor in the eyes, causing the lens to swell. Additionally, a substance called sorbitol builds up in the lens and negatively impacts the formation of important cells and proteins, resulting in cloudy vision and eventually causing cataracts to form.

Cataracts don't damage the eye, but they can make it very difficult to see clearly and may eventually lead to blindness. However, cataracts can be removed via surgery. The surgery is generally safe, but it's important to discuss the pros and cons of this procedure because you could develop complications (e.g. higher risk of infection) because of your diabetes and other health issues you may be suffering from.

For more information about these eye conditions or to have your eyes checked, hop over to this site and contact a local eye doctor.