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Diabetic Eye Disease: Know the Symptoms

Did you know that having diabetes increases the risk of developing several eye-related diseases? Often, these include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma, as well as a number of other conditions that, even if they're seemingly unrelated to your sight, may worsen the health of the eye, and your vision.

Diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when high blood glucose levels cause damage to the retina, and is one of the most common causes of adult blindness in North America.

Cataracts, which are fairly common in old age, and which lead to a clouding of the eye's lens, and the subsequent worsening of vision, tend to develop earlier in diabetes sufferers.

Your odds of developing glaucoma, another condition that can seriously impair your vision, double when you suffer from diabetes. Glaucoma forms due to escalating pressure in the eye, leading to optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Anyone with diabetes, and it doesn't matter whether it is type 1 or type 2 – are at increased chance of developing diabetic eye disease, even more so if their diabetes isn't adequately treated. Additional risks include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet and exercise, and smoking.

Symptoms of diabetic eye diseases usually shift when blood sugar levels do. These often include:

  • Double vision
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision and blind spots
  • Seeing floaters, or shadow in the field of view
  • Trouble with near vision
  • Corneal abrasions

Unfortunately, these symptoms don't really act as warning signs. The onset of diabetic eye disease can actually occur before its symptoms do.


Early detection can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding serious vision loss. Because of this, it is strongly advised that diabetes sufferers go get a yearly eye exam to keep tabs on their eye health. If you or a loved one have diabetes, it's so important to make sure you know about diabetic eye disease. Annual eye exams, and proper preventative measures, can make the difference between a world of sight and a world of darkness.