People living with diabetes are at an increased risk for eye complications. Diabetes can affect your eyes and vision in a number of ways. It can harm the tiny blood vessels in the eye and if they become blocked or leak, the retina and possibly your vision can be affected.
The most common eye complication resulting from diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a serious diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar that damages the tiny blood vessels of the retina. If blood sugar levels are not controlled, vision can vary from clear to blurry throughout the day. High blood pressure can increase the amount of damage to the already weakened vessels in the retina. The earlier problems are diagnosed, the more successful treatments can be. Diabetic retinopathy usually worsens with age. The extent of these changes determines what type of diabetic retinopathy you have. 40% of people with type 1 diabetes and 20% with type 2 diabetes will develop some sort of diabetic retinopathy.
Cataract—clouding of the eye’s lens. Cataracts develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.
Glaucoma—increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision. A person with diabetes is nearly twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults.
Regular eye exams are necessary because diabetic retinopathy is not associated with any symptoms. Most people are not aware they suffer from the disease until vision changes occur. At that point the disease is already severe, thus early detection is important for successful treatment and prevent vision loss.