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Whittington Health NHSUCL

Eyes

Overview

diagram showing a section through an eye

Key fact:
Managing your diabetes well can protect your eyes from damage.

Why do problems with the eyes develop in diabetes?

If type 2 diabetes is not well managed, it can increase the risk of problems occurring in the eyes.

This can be due to:

  • persistently high glucose levels
  • high blood pressure.

What are the most common problems?

The most common eye problem in type 2 diabetes is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a result of damage to the part of the eye called the retina.

Other problems that can occur are cataracts and glaucoma. Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. Glaucoma is when the part of the eye called the optic nerve becomes damaged.

Sudden changes in blood glucose, like starting insulin and lowering blood glucose levels, can lead to temporary blurring of vision as the eyes get used to different glucose levels. This will usually settle in a few weeks.

Will I develop a problem with my eyes?

You can protect your eyes by:
  • attending your regular retinal checks
  • controlling your blood glucose
  • controlling your blood pressure
  • controlling your cholesterol levels
  • eating healthily
  • taking regular physical activity
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • stopping smoking.

Not everyone who has diabetes will develop eye complications. By managing your diabetes well you will be at less risk of developing problems with your eyes.

After 15 years with diabetes, approximately 2 out of every 100 people with diabetes become blind, and about 10 in 100 develop severe visual impairment.

Eye problems are rare in the first five years after diagnosis, and treatment can prevent severe eye problems developing in 90 out of 100 cases.

 

See also above:  Prevention | Checks & tests | Complications | Treatment | Links