How Can Diabetes Affect Eyes?

Well Heeled

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes has become the health complication that is most commonly diagnosed. This is often a combination of poor health style choices, genetics, and pre-existing health conditions. Although people have become more aware of diabetes and its detrimental effects on the body, few realize that it can significantly affect the eyes. That is why everyone must know how diabetes can affect the eyes and how to minimize the risks.  Well Heeled looks at the question – how can diabetes affect eyes?

How can diabetes affect the eyes?

When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, it is common for their doctor to recommend regular visits to an ophthalmologist. This is because irregular glucose levels can lead to blurry vision, retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. But, shockingly, the most common cause for blindness in people between the ages of 20 and 74 is diabetes.

How do you minimize the effects of diabetes on the eyes?

Although diabetes can significantly detriment your vision and eye health, knowing how to decrease the risks of the different symptoms of diabetes-related vision problems can help lessen the odds of permanent damage.

Keep these tips in mind:

1.    Test for diabetes if you struggle with blurry vision

Since blurry vision is so closely related to diabetes, it is advised to have a test to check your blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can suffer from blurry vision because high blood sugar levels can cause the lens of the eye to swell, resulting in blurry vision.

The good news is if you get your blood sugar levels under control, your blurry vision should pass in about three months.

2.    Cataracts can be a sign of diabetes

Although anyone can get cataracts, they are more common amongst people with diabetes. Cataracts cause cloudiness on the lens, making it more challenging to see well. If you have recently dealt with a cataract or regularly get them, consider having your blood sugar levels tested. Cataracts can be very challenging because an operation to remove the lens is often required. In this case, a doctor will replace the cloudy lens with an artificial lens.

3.    Glaucoma should always be treated

Glaucoma involves fluid build-up in the eye resulting from diabetes. The condition can be hazardous for eye health and can lead to complete vision loss if ignored. Therefore, ophthalmologists will usually prescribe medication to help control the amount of fluid in the eye.

Glaucoma often has several symptoms, including:

  • Discomfort in the eye
  • Frequent headaches
  • Overly watery eyes
  • Decreasing vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

It is always best to see an ophthalmologist if you suspect that you might be suffering from glaucoma. If the condition is diagnosed early, it can be effectively treated with medicine, minimizing damage.

4.    Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness

High blood sugar levels can damage the retina’s blood vessels. Unfortunately, the condition can have devastating effects on eye health, including blindness, if ignored. Therefore, it is advised for those with diabetes to always keep their blood sugar levels under control to minimize the effects of diabetic retinopathy.

This condition is much less common amongst people with type 1 diabetes. In addition, the odds of getting diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy can be greatly reduced if insulin is properly administered.

People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to get diabetic retinopathy. Someone who has been recently diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy must take these steps to lessen permanent damage:

  • Monitor blood sugar levels carefully
  • Control blood pressure
  • Keep an eye on cholesterol
  • Avoid smoking

Taking these steps might help minimize the detrimental effects of diabetic retinopathy. There are circumstances where people have suffered from retinopathy but can still see. However, it is best to take the condition very seriously and make any needed changes.

How can I take care of my eyes if I am diabetic?

People with diabetes can enjoy a lifetime of excellent vision if they keep their eye health in mind. These are the critical steps to decreasing your risk of dealing with eye complications when you have diabetes:

1.    Visit your ophthalmologist regularly

Perhaps the essential point for good eye care when you have diabetes is not skipping your visits to your ophthalmologist. Usually, people with diabetes see their ophthalmologist once a year. However, it isn’t unusual for an ophthalmologist to recommend more frequent checkups if there are signs of eye damage.

2.    Stop smoking

People with diabetes are advised to avoid smoking because this habit can significantly increase the odds of dealing with eye complications. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are a smoker, talk to your health care provider about tips to kick the habit quickly.

3.    Invest in a good pair of sunglasses

Wearing sunglasses when you are outside can help minimize eye complications greatly. The benefits of sunglasses are more significant amongst those with diabetes. Speak to your ophthalmologist about a good pair of sunglasses if you have diabetes.

4.    Keep your blood sugar levels steady

The most considerable risk to the eyes when someone has diabetes is high blood sugar levels. Therefore, making sure that your blood sugar levels are stable will help decrease the risk of being diagnosed with eye complications.

5.    Be active

Everyone should get daily exercise, and people diagnosed with diabetes are no exception. By exercising for 30 minutes every day, you can help increase your odds of enjoying excellent eye health.

6.    Eat balanced meals

By following a healthy diet, those with diabetes can significantly boost their eye health and decrease the odds of suffering from eye conditions. It is best to avoid processed foods high in sugar and fat. Instead, eat plenty of vegetables and fruit daily, and remember to drink enough water.


Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean that your eye health will decline. However, it does mean that much more care should be taken to ensure excellent eye health remains. By making good lifestyle choices and visiting your ophthalmologist annually, you can increase the odds of having great eye health. Our vision is such a precious gift, and as such, we should keep it in mind daily.

About Me

Founder of Well Heeled - I have a great interest in diabetes and the effect on those diagnosed as well as those around them. With over 20 years in health and social care, as a qualified social worker and as a passionate educator within the health and social care sector, I wanted to bring further information to others around diabetes and other issues.

Leave a comment