Diabetes and Vision: Frequently Asked Questions

Below, optometrist Dr. Andrew Kwong has answered some of the most common questions about diabetes and vision. To learn more, please feel free to contact us. Our knowledgeable team can provide you with useful information and/or help you schedule a consultation with one of our skilled eye doctors.

How does diabetes affect my eyes?

Diabetes affects the retina, the light sensitive tissue within your eyes that is responsible for your vision. Per the National Eye Institute, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults, and the most common cause of vision loss among diabetics. Your retinal blood vessels become damaged from diabetes, causing them to leak blood and fluid within your eyes. This can damage and distort your vision, potentially leading to vision impairment, and even blindness.

Furthermore, diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts (clouding of your eye’s natural lens), and 40% more likely to suffer from glaucoma, a potentially blinding eye condition.

What if I have pre-diabetes? Could my eyes be affected?

Yes. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Approximately 6% of individuals with pre-diabetes have been shown to have retinopathy, even without a history of diabetes.

I’m a diabetic, but my eyes and vision feel fine.

Unfortunately, diabetic retinopathy often has little to no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Early detection and treatment is important to protect your eyes against possible vision loss.

How is diabetic retinopathy detected?

You are screened for diabetic retinopathy during the dilated portion of your eye exam by your eye doctor. Your doctor will be able to see any changes from diabetes that may require treatment.

How often should I be evaluated for diabetic retinopathy?

For adult onset diabetes, yearly examinations are recommended beginning at the time of diagnosis of diabetes. However, more frequent examination may be indicated depending on your vision, or severity of your condition.

What can I do to prevent diabetic retinopathy?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, as well as controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure, can reduce your risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Is there a treatment for diabetic retinopathy?

Yes. There are various treatments including laser treatment and medication placed in the eye that can help to reduce the effects of diabetes and sometimes even improve vision that has been lost due to swelling in the retina.

If you suffer from diabetes, we encourage you to schedule regular exams to help protect your vision. Contact us today to meet with Dr. Andrew Kwong or one of our other experienced doctors.