I went to an eye doctor not too long ago and had my vision tested. I have pretty good vision, the eye doctor says I may need reading glasses later, but probably not now. My problem is when I am driving I cannot see signs very well unless I am right up on them. I also have occasional problems with blurred vision at times. My husband thinks this may be related to my diabetes. Are there symptoms that happen prior to diabetic eye issues?

Patty Bonsignore


The two main eye conditions that are more common in diabetes are retinopathy and macular edema. Retinopathy refers to a condition in which there are abnormal changes in the back of the eye, the area referred to as the retina. Macular edema refers to a leaking of fluid or swelling in the area of the retina called the macula. Both of these conditions can develop over time with uncontrolled diabetes. A dilated eye exam by an experienced ophthalmologist or optometrist is the best way to determine whether you have either one of these conditions. A dilated eye exam is different from a regular eye exam in that drops are put into the eye to dilate the pupil, allowing the eye doctor to get a view of the whole retina. When you have a dilated eye exam, your vision will be blurry for a few hours afterwards. For those with diabetes, it is VERY important to get a dilated eye exam every year to make sure there are no changes in the back of the eye. Blurred vision is not common when you have retinopathy, in fact when patients have retinopathy, there are usually no changes in vision, and that’s why the eye exam is so important. You cannot tell by symptoms how your eyes are doing. Macular edema can cause some blurriness of vision, particularly in the central part of your vision, but from your description it does not sound like these are the exact symptoms that you are describing. It is important for you to ask your eye doctor whether he or she saw any retinopathy or macular edema. Make sure to ask whether you had a dilated eye exam and ask the doctor how much experience he or she has had in examining patients with diabetes. It is very important for you to choose an eye doctor who is experienced at examining patients with diabetes.