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A Close Look at Diabetic Eye Disease

  • by: Adelaide City Optometrist
  • November 6, 2023

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes. Often, individuals with diabetes are so focused on managing their blood sugar levels that they overlook the potential risks to their eyes. As November is National Diabetes Month, we thought it was the right time to discuss this topic further and spread awareness. In this blog post, we will delve into the various aspects of diabetic eye disease, its types, risk factors, symptoms, and most importantly, how it can be prevented and managed.

Types of Diabetic Eye Diseases

1. Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in adults. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision impairment or even blindness if left untreated.

2. Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): DME is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy. It happens when fluid leaks into the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp, straight-ahead vision. DME can cause blurred vision and is a significant cause of vision loss in diabetic patients.

3. Glaucoma: People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma, a condition that damages the optic nerve and can lead to blindness if not treated promptly.

4. Cataracts: While cataracts are a common age-related eye problem, individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing them at an earlier age.

Risk Factors of Diabetic Eye Disease

Poor Blood Sugar Control: High blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to diabetic eye diseases.

High Blood Pressure: Hypertension can worsen diabetic eye disease.

High Cholesterol: Elevated cholesterol levels can increase the risk of vision problems.

Duration of Diabetes: The longer someone has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic eye disease.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women with diabetes should manage their condition carefully to prevent diabetic eye diseases, which can worsen during pregnancy.

What are the Symptoms?

– Blurred or Distorted Vision
– Floaters and Spots
– Difficulty Seeing at Night
– Partial or Total Vision Loss


Prevention and Management of Diabetic Eye Disease

1. Regular Eye Exams: Diabetic individuals should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year, even if their vision seems fine. Early detection and timely treatment can prevent vision loss.

2. Control Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol: Maintaining these factors within the normal range significantly reduces the risk of diabetic eye diseases.

3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: A balanced diet, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking can contribute to overall well-being, including eye health.

4. Medications and Treatments: There are various treatments available, including injections, laser therapy, and surgery, which can help manage diabetic eye diseases effectively. It’s crucial to follow the advice of healthcare professionals regarding medications and treatments.


Diabetic eye disease is a serious condition that requires attention and proactive management. By understanding the risk factors, symptoms, and preventive measures, individuals with diabetes can take charge of their eye health. Regular check-ups, along with a healthy lifestyle, can go a long way in preventing vision loss and ensuring a high quality of life despite diabetes. Remember, your eyes are not just the windows to your soul but also to your overall well-being – take care of them.