When it comes to diabetic eye complications, diabetic retinopathy gets most of the attention, most likely because diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of blindness in American adults.

But there are two other diabetes-related eye complications that are worth noting, and it’s important to have information on these conditions in order to recognize signs and symptoms and get early treatment.


Cataracts are not unique to people with diabetes; lots of people without diabetes get them. But people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop the eye condition. Also, people with diabetes are also more likely to get cataracts when they’re younger and to have those cataracts progress faster.

What are cataracts?

Cataracts occur when the eye's clear lens clouds, blocking light. This usually develops slowly, so you might not notice a change in eyesight early on, but with time, the cloudy lens will eventually interfere with your vision. Cataracts can make it harder to read, drive a car, or clearly see a person’s face. Other symptoms include:

Difficulty seeing at night
Sensitivity to light and glare
Seeing “halos” around lights
Fading or yellowing of colors
Double vision in one eye
Frequent changes to your glasses or contacts’ prescription

If you believe you are suffering from any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care physician right away.


Glaucoma is similar to cataracts in that, while people without diabetes get it, the risk for people with diabetes is higher. Diabetics are 40 percent more likely to have glaucoma, and the longer someone has had diabetes, the more common glaucoma is.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is actually not just one disease, but the name for a group of eye conditions that cause optic nerve damage. In most cases, pressure builds up in the eye, causing damage. Like cataracts, glaucoma can damage your vision so slowly that you may not notice any vision loss until the disease is advanced. Symptoms to watch out for include:

Eye pain
Nausea and vomiting with eye pain
Blurred vision
Halos around lights
Red eye
Tunnel vision
Gradual loss of peripheral vision

With regular checkups, you can help keep minor vision problems minor; the earlier problems are diagnosed, the more successful treatments can be.

See your doctor if you have any concerns about either of these eye conditions.