How does diabetes affect your eyes? The notion of diabetic eye disease doesn’t seem to be a major topic of discussion, but it should be – in fact diabetes can leave a person blind. Read more to learn how diabetes can affect eyesight and when it’s time to go see your eye doctor. 

Diabetic Retinopathy

When it comes to eye disease caused by diabetes, diabetic Retinopathy is the most common. Diabetic retinopathy leads to irreversible blindness in both eyes. Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you’re at risk for diabetic retinopathy, and it’s worse if you’ve had the disease for a long time and aren’t good at controlling your blood sugar. Diabetic retinopathy happens when the blood vessels in the light-sensitivity tissues at the back of the eye are damaged. You may be completely asymptomatic when you first begin developing this condition, but eventually it will lead to blindness. 


Your optic nerve needs to be healthy for you to have good vision, and it’s easily damaged. It’s common for people over the age of 60 and can happen quite easily as you age, but it’s more likely to happen if you have diabetes. Discovery of glaucoma means you’ll likely need treatment for the rest of your life. 


When a cloud begins to form on the lens of your eye, it’s a sign you have cataracts. You’ll start to notice problems when it gets harder to read and drive a car. Cataracts can usually be corrected with surgery, but it can also be prevented through management of diabetes. 

Diabetic Macular Edema

Occurring in people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, this happens when fluid starts to build up in the macula, the part of the eye which allows us to make out fine details. When there’s a buildup of fluid, the macula will swell and thicken. Your vision will be distorted. Like with diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels become damaged over time and you may not notice symptoms at first. There are a few types of treatments, including laser therapy and injectable medications. 

When To See A Doctor

To avoid diabetes-related eyesight loss, practice careful management of your condition. Poor control over your blood sugar or loss of insulin can cause damage to your eyes, but where diabetes is properly managed, it’s possible to slow or prevent diabetic eye disease. Make sure to see your eye doctor for an annual eye exam. 

Is it time for your yearly eye exam? Book an appointment with an optometrist at the Laurier Optical Orleans Innes Eye Clinic. We provide full exams, identify underlying causes of eye issues, and give advice and instruction to patients.