What Should I Know About Diabetic Eye Diseases?

People with diabetes are likely to develop an eye disease due to high blood sugar levels. Two very common diseases are diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, DME.

Cataract and Glaucoma are also diabetic eye diseases that can develop.

According to the National Eye Institute, NEI, all diabetic eye diseases have the potential to lead to vision loss or blindness. Because of this, they should be taken very seriously (NEI, 2015).

The NEI states, “diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults” (NEI, 2015).

Diabetic retinopathy is normally caused by consistently high blood sugar. This leads to possible microaneurysms that develop on the retina. If it becomes serious, the retina will start to develop scar tissue and will detach from the back of the eyeball. As stated before, diabetic retinopathy can lead to severe vision loss or blindness if it goes untreated.

DME is actually a consequence of diabetic retinopathy. This is a swelling inside of a region in the retina called the macula. DME is the most common cause of vision loss or blindness among people that have developed diabetic retinopathy (NEI, 2015).

DME is normally most common in the later stages of retinopathy, but it can develop during any part of the progression of the disease.

Cataract is an eye disease that causes a cloudiness over the lens of the eye. People with diabetes are 2 to 5 times more likely to develop cataract (NEI, 2015). It also can develop at an earlier age if you have diabetes.

Finally, there is Glaucoma. This is a category for a bunch of diseases that damage the optic nerve. Types of glaucoma are connected to the build-up of pressure inside of the eye (NEI, 2015). People with diabetes have double the risk than those who don’t to develop glaucoma.

Therefore, it is extremely important to meet with your eye doctor a minimum of one time a year. Make sure to discuss these diseases with him or her in order to make sure that you do not develop them.

All of these can develop vision loss and blindness. By taking preventative measures from the start, you will be able to lower your risk of developing one of these eye diseases.

Studies show that people who are able to maintain their blood glucose levels inside of their target range are significantly less likely to develop diabetic eye diseases than those who do not have control over their blood sugar levels.

You can control your blood sugar levels in a few different ways. Frequently checking your blood sugar will help you see where you are at before, during, and after certain activities.

Getting 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise will help you significantly in improving your blood sugar management.

Eating less trans fats will help significantly. Making sure that you are eating meals consistently with smaller portion sizes will help you in the long run as well.

Make sure you meet with your eye doctor at least once a year to have a dilated eye exam. This will assist you with catching diabetic eye diseases before they can become a problem.


National Eye Institute. (2015). Facts about diabetic eye disease. National Eye Institute. Retrieved from https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy