A Look at Diabetic Eye Disease

Each day, millions of Americans must contend with the effects of diabetes. Aside from symptoms such as hunger and fatigue, diabetes can also cause significant eye problems, including diabetic eye disease.

Wearing Out the Eyes

Diabetic eye disease is a sort of catch-all term, as it is used to describe multiple vision-related conditions. Aside from common eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma, diabetic eye disease can also include diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. As time progresses, these conditions work to steadily erode the eyes’ functionality, causing significantly reduced vision and potentially full blindness.

Symptoms and Risk

The risk for this condition is not equal for all of those with diabetes, as a number of factors can lead to declining vision. Specifically, diabetics with elevated blood glucose levels that go without treatment can easily find themselves dealing with eye issues. The same goes for diabetics with untreated high blood pressure. Likewise, certain demographic groups are more at risk of diabetes related vision decline; this category includes African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and older adults of all backgrounds.

Expecting mothers with diabetes might experience declining eye health during their pregnancy. This is often due to the changes the body undergoes during the pregnancy period, which may put pressure on the eyes’ blood vessels.

While diabetic eye disease can easily be a very taxing condition, it often begins with little to no symptoms. The first signs of trouble could include blurry/wavy vision, frequently changing vision or vision loss. Other diabetics might see spots, dark strings or flashes of light.


There are multiple treatment methods for diabetic eye disease. Some people might be prescribed anti–vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections into the eyes. Alternatively, laser treatments could be used to address this condition, as could cataract lens surgery.

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