Diabetes can trigger several eye complications, including glaucoma and retinopathy, and in the worst cases, it could even lead to blindness. Proper diabetes care is essential to prevent eye problems.

Individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk for diabetic eye disease. Get an annual dilated eye exam to test for signs of damage, and be aware of these diseases.


Glaucoma occurs when pressure increases in the eye, which pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. As the retina and nerve become more damaged, vision is gradually lost.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than those without diabetes. Risk also increases with age.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels of the retina, which may lead to bleeding. Although people with early diabetic retinopathy often have no changes in vision or only mild vision problems, if left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness.

There are two major types of retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative. As the most common form of retinopathy, non-proliferative retinopathy (an early form of the condition) occurs when the capillaries in the back of the eye swell and form pouches filled with blood. As more blood vessels become blocked, non-proliferative retinopathy can move through three stages: mild, moderate, and severe.

Proliferative retinopathy may develop after several years of non-proliferative stages. People who have proliferative retinopathy (an advanced form of the condition) suffer from decreased oxygen to the retina, which make blood vessels extremely fragile and sensitive. Blood vessels can break. Treatment is needed to prevent vision loss.

With all of this being said, it should be noted that most people with diabetes have nothing more than minor eye disorders. Most mild eye issues are reversible with better blood sugar control. Still, proper glucose monitoring and diabetes care is key.

Glossary of key terms for understanding eye care

To fully understand the relationship between diabetes and the eye, it helps to have a grasp on how the eye works. Here are some keys terms:

• Cornea: The transparent layer forming the front of the eye.
• Iris: A flat, colored membrane behind the cornea of the eye that contains the pupil
• Pupil: A hole located in the center of the iris that allows light to strike the retina
• Retina: The layer at the back of the eyeball containing cells that are sensitive to light. These cells send nerve impulses to the brain, where a visual image is formed.

Don't have your annual eye appointment scheduled? Call today to get this important preventive care taken care of, or set a reminder in your phone to remind you to do it soon.

For more on eye care for diabetics:

Injection Improves Vision in DME Patients
Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy
7 Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy You Shouldn’t Ignore