diagram of an eye with diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes and Your Eyes

Diabetes is a complex and progressive disease which can affect every part of your body, including your eyes. 

If left unchecked, diabetes and the associated vision concerns can lead to the permanent loss of your eyesight.

Find out more about the relationship between diabetes and your eyes...

diagram of an eye with diabetic retinopathy

How Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

High blood sugar can lead to a variety of problems with your eyesight, such as blurred vision, and diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss in adults aged 20 to 74 years old

If you have diabetes and you experience changes in your vision, you should speak to a doctor right away to prevent further damage to your eyesight.

Blurry Vision

High blood sugar can cause the lens in your eye to swell, which affects your ability to see.

In many cases, getting your blood sugar back into the target range can correct blurriness.

It may take up to three months for your vision to fully return to normal.

Make sure you tell your eye doctor if you experience blurred vision so they can check for other causes.


Cataracts refer to a condition in which the normally clear lens becomes clouded. Anyone can develop cataracts.

However, individuals with diabetes tend to get them at a younger age. Cataracts can also worsen more quickly for those with diabetes.

Symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision and glare.

Removing a cataract requires a surgical procedure to replace the affected tissue with an artificial lens.


With glaucoma, fluid does not drain properly from the eye, causing pressure to build up. Over time, this increased pressure can cause vision loss.

Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop a rare condition called neovascular glaucoma which causes new blood vessels to grow on the iris and block the normal flow of fluid. 

There are a variety of treatments available for glaucoma. Your eye doctor can discuss your options and explain how to best manage your diabetes and glaucoma treatment.

Symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Watery eyes
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Red eyes

Diabetic Retinopathy

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop retinopathy. This condition causes blood vessels in the retina to become damaged, which can impact your vision.

Keeping your blood sugar under control can lower your risk of developing retinopathy. Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol can also help slow or prevent the disease. 

There are several treatments available for diabetic retinopathy. Procedures such as laser photocoagulation (which is also used to treat macular degeneration) and vitrectomy can prevent blindness in most people. Early treatment of diabetic retinopathy is generally more successful, so seek treatment promptly if you are diagnosed with this condition. 

before and after diabetic retinopathy surgerybefore and after diabetic retinopathy surgery

How to Prevent Eye Damage from Diabetes

For most patients, damage from diabetic eye conditions is gradual. In general, most people are able to slow down or prevent eye issues from getting worse. 

It is crucial to attend regular eye exams if you have diabetes. Your doctor can monitor your eye health and identify early signs of problems. In addition, keeping your blood sugar low and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can keep your eyes healthy

Schedule an Eye Exam

With proper care, patients with diabetes can minimize the effects of vision problems and keep their eyesight. For more information, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor today. 

The doctors at Cohen Eye Associates, Limited

Cohen Eye Associates, Limited

At Cohen Eye Associates in St. Louis, MO, our team offers a full-service optical shop to address all of your vision needs. We can provide you and your family a range of eye care services, from LASIK and cataract surgery to glaucoma treatment. Our doctors are members of national professional organizations including:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • American Medical Association
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  • American Glaucoma Society
  • American Optometric Association

To schedule an appointment with our eye care specialists, contact us online or call us at (314) 361-5003.

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