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Five Eye Problems Caused by Diabetes

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetes, especially if poorly managed, can introduce a wide range of health concerns and complications. Some include nerve damage, foot damage, skin conditions, hearing impairment, and more. One of the most common complications for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics is a group of eye problems that are classified as diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic eye disease conditions can produce symptoms ranging from annoying to very serious, such as blindness. It’s important for diabetics to manage blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol in addition to seeing their optometrists consistently.

It’s helpful to know about the common eye conditions caused by diabetes in order to establish a prevention and treatment plan. Eye issues for diabetics are caused by high amounts of sugar in blood, so it makes sense that those with less control over their diabetes are at higher risk of developing eye issues.

The Gilbert Eyecare teams in Norfolk and Virginia Beach offer training and expertise in diabetic eye care, find out more about diabetic eye health here.

Here are five main eye conditions included in diabetic eye disease:

Blurry Vision

Diabetics with high blood sugars may notice that their vision goes blurry and it has nothing to do with the glasses needing an update. Blurry vision can occur in diabetics when blood sugars are outside of the targeted range. Elevated sugar levels can cause the eye’s lens to swell, which then impacts vision.

To treat blurry vision, diabetics need to get blood sugar levels within the target range. Even then, it can take up to 3 months for vision to return to normal.


Eyes have an internal lens that assists in our ability to see and focus on images. This lens can get cloudy which indicates the appearance of a cataract. This isn’t a condition exclusive to diabetics, but those with diabetes can get them earlier and they can progress quicker.

A cloudy lens, or cataract, prevents you from seeing as well as you should. Cataracts require surgical removal of the lens and replacement with an artificial one.


Glaucoma is also not exclusive to diabetics, but it does occur much more frequently in those with diabetes.

Glaucoma manifests when pressure increases inside an eye because fluid doesn’t drain as it should. The increased eye pressure can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels, both of which impact quality of vision.

Medications can treat some forms of glaucoma by lowering eye pressures and reducing the amount of liquid present in an eye. Prescription eye drops, surgery and laser treatments can also be used to treat types of glaucoma.

Macular edema

A key component of the eye is the macula which sends images to the brain, it’s located centrally in the retina.

Macular edema is caused at the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. It occurs when blood vessels swell and leak into the macula which then causes the macula to swell.

Diabetic Retinopathy

One of the most serious diabetic eye issues is damage to the eye’s retina, which is a group of cells on the back of an eye that take in light that is then turned into images sent to the brain via the optic nerve.

High blood sugar levels can cause the delicate blood vessels in the retina to be damaged, causing diabetic retinopathy. Without detection and treatment, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness. Controlling blood sugar levels lowers a diabetic’s risk for developing the condition.

Diabetics should maintain a consistent schedule of full yearly checkups to help prevent and detect any conditions that may arise as a result of blood sugar levels.

If you are type 1 or type 2 and asking “where can I find a diabetic eye doctor near me?” You are in luck.
The optometrists with Gilbert Eyecare are trained in caring for diabetic patients and can assist you in maintaining eye health at either of our Hampton Roads locations. Make an online appointment at either the Virginia Beach or Norfolk location OR by calling 757-425-0200 / 757 622 0200.

Virginia Beach Location

Our Virginia Beach Eye Care office is conveniently located off Laskin Road in Hilltop.

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