How does diabetes damage your eyes and vision?

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Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease which damages your heart, eyes, blood vessels, kidneys over a time.  The high elevated sugar levels can damage your eyes and may also cause vision loss or blindness.

Routine eye checkup and managing your diabetes can help to prevent vision problems and protect your eyes from serious complications.

This blog will discuss the causes, symptoms and prevention of eye disease caused by diabetes.

How can diabetes affect your eyes?

Diabetic eye disease is an eye problem or disease that can affect the people with diabetes. There are various types of eye disease including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetes damages your eyes when your blood sugar or blood glucose levels are too high. In early stages, diabetic people may have blurry vision because of high blood glucose. However, certain changes in medications may also cause blurry vision for a few weeks, but it is a temporary change that goes away once your glucose level comes to normal.

Continuous high blood glucose levels can cause damage to the blood vessels of the eyes. However, this damage starts once blood glucose level is higher than the normal level. Damaged blood vessels cause leakage and swelling in the blood vessels. These weak blood vessels may start to bleed in the middle part of the eye. Weak blood vessels are the major cause of various eye problems.

To keep your eyes healthy and manage diabetes it is important to maintain blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is also necessary to undergo a routine examination of your eyes.

However, there are no early signs detected when diabetic damages your eye. Examining your dilated eye helps the ophthalmologist to find and treat your eye problems at early stages so it doesn’t result in vision loss.

Taking care of your diabetes is the only control measure to reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease.

Types of eye problems caused due to diabetes

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is a form of diabetes-related eye disease. The retina of your eye is damaged when your blood sugar levels rise too high. Being a light sensitive tissue, the damage of the retina can lead to vision loss if it is left untreated.

Various factors can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy, one of the major factors is ageing.

Ageing:  As you age, blood sugar levels rise when you eat and may also increase in response to stressful events. This causes blood sugar levels to spike higher than normal. Your blood vessels also become weak as you get older. The blood vessels leak oxygen-depleted, nutrient-poor fluid into the eye’s retina, which damages retinal cells. This can lead to vision loss if not treated.

At first, diabetic retinopathy may be asymptomatic or cause mild vision problems. And if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to vision loss.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

In early stages of diabetic retinopathy, you might have no symptoms. As the condition progresses, you might develop:

  • Floating Vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dark or empty areas in your vision
  • Vision loss

How to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?

Proper management of your diabetes is the best way to prevent vision loss. So, if you have diabetes, make an appointment with your eye doctor for a yearly checkup even if your vision seems fine.


A cataract is a condition that causes the clear lens of the eye to become cloudy. A person who has a cataract will see through lenses that are similar in appearance to frosted or fogged-up windows making it more difficult for them to read and do other tasks requiring vision.

Because cataracts develop slowly, they usually don’t interfere with your vision in the early stages. But over time, a cataract will make it difficult to see.

If your vision is affected by cataracts, stronger lighting and eyeglasses might help. If this doesn’t solve the problem, however, you may need to have surgery in order to regain clear eyesight.

Cataracts are a common problem caused by high sugar levels in the eyeball’s aqueous humor. This fluid provides nutrients and oxygen to the lens, and when sugar levels get high, the lens becomes cloudy, and develop cataracts.

When your blood sugar rises, your eyes can get a bit blurry.

If you have uncontrolled blood sugar, your body produces enzymes that can turn glucose into a substance called sorbitol. Too much of sorbitol may affect your vision.

Symptoms of Cataract

  • Cataracts can make your vision cloudy, blurry, or shadowy
  • Difficult to see at night, and you may need to use brighter light to see well.
  •  Your eyeglasses or contact lenses may need to change often.
  • Colours may fade or turn yellow
  • You may experience double vision in one eye.

Types of Cataracts

There are various types of cataracts, which affects the various parts of the eyes and they are:

  • Nuclear Cataracts
  • Cortical Cataracts
  • Posterior subcapsular cataracts
  • Congenital Cataracts

How to prevent cataracts?

  • Have regular eye examinations
  • Quit smoking
  • Control your blood sugar levels
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Reduce alcohol intake

Blurry Vision

If you have blurry eyes, it could indicate your blood sugar is not in the right range.

Vision blurring can be caused due to fluid leakage in the eye’s lens. This results in swelling of the lens and may also change the shape of your lens. It makes it difficult for your eyes to focus and makes things look fuzzy.

When you start taking insulin, your vision may begin to get blurry. This is because your body is getting rid of a lot of fluids. But usually, this will improve after a few weeks. When your blood sugar levels stabilise, your vision usually gets better too.


Glaucoma is a type of eye disease which causes damage to your optic nerve, a group of nerves connecting the eye to the brain. If glaucoma goes untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. And if you have diabetes, your chances are doubled for developing this condition.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

  • Blurred vision
  • Distorted vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Eye Pain
  • Eye irritation

Macular Edema

Diabetic macular edema is a condition in which fluid leaks from your retina and accumulates in the area around your macula. It can make your vision poor, depending on the extent of the damage.

Wavy vision and colour change are the main symptoms of macular edema.

Other Types of Edema

  • Macular Degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Uveitis
  • Retinal vein occlusion
  • Eye surgery
  • Medications

When to see a doctor?

Even if your primary health care provider checks for signs of diabetes-related eye disease, you should examine your eye every one to two years with an eye specialist. A specialist will be able to detect problems before they become serious.

You have to consult a doctor, when you observe any of the below mentioned symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Wavy vision
  • Temporary vision loss
  • Impaired vision
  • Emptiness or black spots in the vision
  • Partial vision

Diagnosis and treatment of diabetic eye disease

A dilated eye exam is the best way to check for diabetes eye disease. The doctor will put drops in your eyes to make them more dilated. This will allow the doctor to examine the larger area in the back of your eye. After the exam, your vision will be blurry for a few hours.

Your doctor will look at your health and see if there is anything they can do to help.

To test your vision, your doctor may measure the pressure in your eyes. This may help them determine if you have vision problems. People with diabetes should examine their eyes at least once a year.

Based on the type of eye disease, the doctor will prescribe the treatment. Some eye diseases can be treated through medication, but serious issues may demand laser treatment or an eye surgery.


It is always recommended to control your blood sugar levels, because diabetes damages your overall health. Maintaining your sugar level, protects your eye from retinal damage, cataracts, glaucoma and more.


1. How can I protect my eyes from diabetes eye diseases?

To protect your eyes from diabetic damage, you have to maintain your blood glucose levels, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Having a dilated eye examination once a year helps to protect your eyes from diabetic damage.

2. Can diabetes blurred vision be corrected?

High blood glucose level makes your eye lens swell, which leads to blurry vision. It can cause blurry vision. Your vision goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes.

3. How to prevent eye damage from diabetes?

Here are some ways to prevent eye damage from diabetes:
● Controlling and maintaining blood glucose levels
● Regular eye-checkups
● Maintaining blood pressure
● Controlled cholesterol level

4. What eye problems can diabetes cause?

● Diabetic Retinopathy
● Cataract
● Glaucoma
● Macular Edema


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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