Why You Shouldn't Ignore Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic Eye Disease, David R. Frazee Family Eyecare

Diabetic eye disease is not just one disease but a group of diseases that commonly affect people with diabetes. Diabetes is widespread in this country, affecting about 29 million people, while another 86 million have prediabetes.

People with diabetes have a higher risk of eye diseases, some of which can lead to blindness.  In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults. Many of these diseases have few or no symptoms, so that’s why it’s important to bring attention to diabetic eye disease.

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

All types of diabetic eye disease can be serious enough to cause vision impairment or blindness, if not appropriately treated. These diseases include:

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in American adults, affects almost 7.7 million people age 40 and older. Also the most common diabetic eye disease, diabetic retinopathy is when the blood vessels in the retina become damaged. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside of each eye. Nerve cells transfer light to the optic nerve in the brain where it’s converted to a visual image.

Chronic high blood sugar levels can cause the blood vessels in the retina to swell, leak, and become blocked. In severe cases, new abnormal and faulty blood vessels form to replace the damaged ones.  


Cataracts are the clouding of the eye lens. Adults with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts than those without diabetes. In the early stages, cataracts are too small to impair your vision. As they grow, your vision becomes more cloudy, blurry, and impaired.


People with diabetes are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma than people without diabetes. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that impair the eye’s optic nerve. The most common type of glaucoma is caused by fluid that builds up in the front part of your eye and elevates the pressure in your eye. This increased pressure can damage the optic nerve.

Prevention of Diabetic Eye Disease

If not treated early and effectively, diabetic eye disease can progress to vision loss or blindness. Fortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of diabetic eye disease can be prevented.

The best way to detect diabetic eye disease is to have annual comprehensive eye exams, which should include a dilated eye exam. Some people, though, they may need more frequent eye exams.

Another way to prevent eye disease or reduce your risk is to control your blood sugar as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When you keep your diabetes under control, you can reduce your risk for diabetic eye disease as well as other diabetes-related complications.  


For more information on diabetic eye disease, how to prevent it, or how to treat it, call Dr. David R. Frazee Family Eyecare in Richardson, Texas, or make an appointment online.

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