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Home » Eye Care Services » Diabetes and Eyesight

Diabetes and Eyesight

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way a person’s body processes food for energy and growth. All types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, cause the body to have difficulty converting sugar in the blood to energy. This can cause many health problems.

Diabetes can cause vision problems, here are some issues and diseases that can be caused by diabetes:

  • Diabetics are susceptible to developing cataracts (a clouding of the eye’s lens) earlier in life.
  • People with diabetes are about 50% more likely to develop glaucoma, an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. It can be detected by an increase of eye pressure in the eye.
  • Macular edema (and macular degeneration) are common in diabetics because of a malfunctioning of the blood vessels in the inner region of the retina which is responsible for sharp and clear vision.
  • Most commonly, diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects the blood vessels in the very important retina. Almost 45 percent of Americans diabetics are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy of some stage.

If you have diabetes, you should talk to your eye doctor about the risk and likelihood of certain eye diseases.

Diabetes Statistics

Over 21 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated additional 6 million people unaware they have a form of the disease. What’s more, an estimated 54 million Americans ages 40 to 74 have prediabetes, a condition that puts them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. According to a recent American Optometric Association survey, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults ages 20 to 74.

  • Since the retina is the light-sensitive region of the back of the eye responsible for processing visual images, diabetic retinopathy can affect your vision in mild, moderate or even severe ways.
  • If you have diabetes, you probably know that your body can't use or store sugar properly. When your blood sugar gets too high, it can damage the blood vessels in your eyes. This damage may lead to diabetic retinopathy. In fact, the longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they are to have retinopathy (damage to the retina) from the disease.
  • Changes in blood-sugar levels increase your risk of diabetic retinopathy, as does long-term diabetes.
  • According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 95% of those with diabetic retinopathy can avoid substantial vision loss if they are treated in time.