How Does Diabetes Affect Your Vision?


By Ron Gross, MD

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. This results in bleeding and fluid leaking into the retina. This is called diabetic retinopathy (DR) and if this occurs, it can make your vision worse.

Am I at risk for Diabetic Retinopathy?

Anyone with diabetes, either type 1, type 2, or gestational, can develop diabetic retinopathy. The better you control your blood sugar, the less risk. But, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely it will occur.  

Diabetic retinopathy

How do I improve my chances to not lose vision from retinopathy?

All patients with diabetes should receive an annual dilated eye exam from an eye doctor. This checks for changes to the eye from diabetes. Unfortunately, you may not know you have early DR . Often, patients are unaware of their disease until later when it affects their vision.

Will finding DR early help?

When diabetic eye disease is caught early, treatment to keep your vision works better.  Early detection in primary care makse it easier for patients to get an eye evaluation. An eye care specialist will still look at the picture of your eye and provide you with a diagnosis, but you won’t need to make a separate appointment just for the evaluation.

What happens if I do have Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you are diagnosed with any stage of DR, you should visit an eye care specialist right away. They will help you manage the disease and decrease the chance of any further vision loss. Early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent.

For more information on how to protect your vision, please email 

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