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What are the Diabetes-related Eye Problems?

Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes may put you at risk for a number of common diabetes-related eye problems. These include cataracts, glaucoma, macular oedema and diabetic retinopathy (damage to blood vessels that lead to the retina), which may lead to the retina becoming detached.


In most cases, diabetes affects the eyes because high blood sugar which can damage the tiny blood vessels that lead to your retina, causing them to be weakened or narrowed. This may lead to a number of complications, from blood getting into the vitreous (or gel-like area) of the eye, to the retina becoming detached.


At first, you may not experience any symptoms – the type of damage that is most commonly associated with diabetes happens gradually, and may not necessarily be noticed. Eventually, you may experience symptoms that vary depending on the eye issue you have, including:

  • Eye flashes and floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots
  • Loss of vision

As these symptoms are often gradual and difficult to detect, regular eye examinations are advisable.


There are a number of measures that you can take to prevent diabetes-associated eye problems. For example:

  • Have regular eye examinations – visiting your eye care professional for regular check ups is the first step in supporting the health of your eyes
  • Keep your blood glucose and blood pressure as normal as possible – high blood sugar and hypertension are high risk factors for damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eye, which is the starting point for more serious complications. Making sure your blood glucose and blood pressure are maintained at the right levels can help you stop problems before they start.

These symptoms can also be a sign of other eye conditions. If you have any of the symptoms, please check with your eye care practitioner.

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