Diabetes and the Eyes

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by swelling and leaking of the blood vessels within the retina, or fragile new blood vessels growing on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness. During your comprehensive eye examination, we will dilate your pupils and use an ophthalmoscope to look for diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retina

The longer someone has diabetes, the greater his or her risk for developing diabetic eye disease. Almost 50% of all people with diabetes develop some diabetic retinopathy during their life. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. There is no eye pain or blurred vision until the condition worsens and irreversible eye damage has occurred, so it is important to have an annual dilated eye examination if you have diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy is sometimes treated with a laser that shrinks abnormal blood vessels growing in the retina. This treatment reduces the potential of severe vision loss, but it must be accomplished early enough in the course of the disease.

People with diabetes are also more likely to develop glaucoma and cataracts than other adults. Diabetics often develop cataracts at a younger age than people without diabetes. During your comprehensive eye examination, we will evaluate your eyes for signs of cataracts and glaucoma as well as diabetic retinopathy.

If you are diabetic, we urge you to have a comprehensive eye examination every year.

Information on Diabetic Retinopathy-Printable Brochure from AOA