How Diabetes Can Affect the Health of Your Eyes

How Diabetes Can Affect the Health of Your Eyes

An estimated 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, and roughly 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed each year. If left untreated, diabetes can have a devastating impact on your health and quality of life. Living well with diabetes means controlling your blood sugar and managing risk factors that increase the likelihood of complications.

Prolonged high blood sugar can harm many parts of your body, including the health of your eyes. Learn how diabetes can negatively impact eye health and how to protect yourself.

At In Focus Vision & Eyecare, we offer comprehensive eye care for your whole family. Led by optometrist Ray Corbin-Simon, OD, the In Focus team performs regular diabetic eye exams to detect signs of diabetes-related eye disease and keep your eyes healthy. Here’s what we want you to know about diabetes and your eye health.

Uncontrolled diabetes damages blood vessels

Prolonged high blood sugar damages vessels that supply blood to different parts of your body. Your feet and eyes are especially vulnerable to complications from damaged blood vessels. While many people with diabetes have learned that they must take special care of their feet to live well with diabetes, they may not realize the danger diabetes poses to their eye health.

Diabetic eye disease

Diabetic eye disease is an umbrella term that describes a group of eye conditions that can develop as a result of diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes. It occurs when prolonged high blood sugar damages vessels that supply blood to the retina, a thin structure at the back of the eye that processes light.

Diabetic retinopathy can cause blood vessels to swell and leak, or prevent blood from flowing through. People with diabetic retinopathy may experience eye floaters, dark spots, blurry vision and trouble seeing at night.

Macular edema

Roughly half of people with diabetic retinopathy will go on to develop macular edema. Diabetic retinopathy can cause a buildup of fluid in an area surrounding the center of the retina called the macula. This part of the eye is responsible for seeing straight ahead. The buildup of fluid in the macula most commonly causes blurry vision.


People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma than people of the same age who do not have diabetes. Glaucoma occurs when fluid pressure eventually damages the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of the disease, occurs when the fluid in the front of your eye fails to drain properly. Glaucoma can cause eye pain, blurry vision and eye redness.


Cataracts are the most common eye disease in people with diabetes. They cause blurry and dark vision and typically worsen over time. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. As the clouding grows larger, it increasingly blurs your vision.

Following your doctor’s treatment plan to keep your blood sugar under control is the best way to avoid eye-related complications of diabetes. A nutritious, carbohydrate-controlled diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices like avoiding smoking and excess alcohol are the cornerstone of living well with diabetes.

For more information and to schedule a diabetic eye exam, call one of our two offices in Piscataway and Metuchen, New Jersey, to schedule an appointment, or book one online at your convenience.

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