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Eye Health

Taking Charge of Your Diabetes & Eye Health

Knowledge and community are key to thriving with diabetes despite complications that may come our way. Most importantly, early detection by a professional could save your vision.

Vision Loss and Diabetes

The eyes may be windows to the soul, but for people with diabetes, looking deep into the retina can also reveal a diabetes-related eye disease. Two of the most common types of vision loss related to diabetes are macular edema and retinopathy. Both are under the scope of diabetic eye disease, which includes all the retinal changes caused by diabetes.

Symptoms: Cloudy vision, trouble seeing at night, seeing double, blurry vision in only one eye, redness or pain in your eye, loss of peripheral vision and seeing floaters or spots 

Treatment: The treatments for macular edema and proliferative retinopathy can prevent vision loss and even restore some of your lost vision.

How to catch early: Annual dilated eye exam

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Diabetic Retinopathy

High blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in a part of your eye called the retina. There are various stages of diabetic eye disease. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common and serious type of eye problem associated with diabetes.

Symptoms: Often none. Also common: blurred vision, distorted vision, impaired colors, seeing spots or vision loss

Treatment: Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment or surgery.

How to catch early: Annual dilated eye exam

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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to your optic nerve resulting in irreversible vision loss and is more common in people with diabetes.

Symptoms: Often none. Sometimes headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, watery/red eyes, halos, vision loss

Treatment: Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment or surgery.

How to catch early: Annual dilated eye exam

Learn more


 

Cataracts

Usually associated with age, cataracts are more common and occur earlier in people diagnosed with diabetes. With cataracts, the lens in your eye becomes cloudy due to the breakdown of proteins in the lens.

Symptoms: Blurred vision, hazy vision, halos around lights particularly at night

Treatment: Cataract surgery to replace the lens near the surface of the eye.

How to catch early: Annual dilated eye exam

Learn more


 

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetic Macular Edema is when the tiny blood vessels in the retina leak fluid which builds up and causing swelling. This distorts vision and may lead to permanent vision loss.

Symptoms: Blurry, distorted or wavy central vision. Color perception may also appear washed out.

Treatment: Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment or surgery.

How to catch early: Annual dilated eye exam


 

Most importantly, early detection by a professional could save your vision. There are other steps that can help, too. Together, we can take control.

Get an Annual Dilated Eye Exam

It’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam with dilation every year to allow for a more thorough examination of your eye and to catch conditions early, before permanent damage is done. Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine exams are so important—to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.

Eye health benefits are determined by your health care plan. Consider your network to learn your options when making an appointment. Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

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Know your risk for diabetes

Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so someone may have it and not even know it. Take or share our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you or a loved one are at risk for diabetes, talk to a healthcare professional about getting tested.
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Calculate your risk for diabetic retinopathy

Vision loss due to diabetes can be prevented with early detection, timely treatment, and preventive lifestyle changes. With this free RetinaRisk™ calculator, you can better understand the risk factors, calculate your risk, and learn simple steps you can take to prevent vision loss.

Community Connection

Easily find information to obtain a comprehensive eye exam and follow up care. Connect with local resources like diabetes programs in your area, transportation, nutrition education and health, and more. Find the resources in every zip code so you can find the help you need where ever you are.


Find Your Eye Care Professional

VSP Vision Care

American Diabetes Association does not endorse any product or service.

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