What Is Diabetic Eye Disease?

People that suffer from diabetes have to deal with many health issues, many of which extend to the eyes. Diabetic eye disease refers to several eye problems patients with diabetes deal with.

In a lot of cases, they have to deal with these eye problems simultaneously. High blood sugar will not initially cause vision problems other than mild blurriness due to swelling in your eyes.

If glucose levels remain elevated over a long period of time, blood vessels inside of your eyes can become permanently damaged. Keep reading to learn more about diabetic eye disease!

Diabetic Retinopathy

Your retina is an extremely important part of your vision. It contains the necessary components to detect light and translate it into images that are sent to the brain as electrical impulses.

Retinas are also very sensitive and fragile, so any problems with them are serious and need to be taken care of immediately.

When the blood vessels inside of your eye are damaged due to high blood sugar, they can bleed and leak into the retina. Without intervention, the blood vessels become weaker and weaker over time.

This eventually leads to them completely closing off and triggering the growth of new blood vessels. These new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.

New blood vessels combined with bleeding, leaking, and scarring of old blood vessels can lead to permanent retinal damage. It can even go so far as to cause retinal detachment.

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy can be treated with better management of blood sugar levels. For advanced diabetic retinopathy, there are several different treatment options available.

Which treatment your doctor recommends is largely dependent on your specific retinal problems.

Diabetic Macular Edema

The center of the retina is called the macula. The macula handles the central part of your vision.

When the blood vessels in your retina swell due to diabetic retinopathy, it can cause swelling of the macula. This is also called macular edema.

Macular edema destroys vision and can lead to vision loss or even blindness. Certain surgical laser procedures can help relieve diabetic macular edema but prevention is more effective.


Cataracts occur when the lenses in our eyes cloud over. Even though this is a natural part of aging, diabetes can cause patients to develop cataracts at an earlier age.

It is believed that this is due to a buildup of deposits in your lenses from high glucose levels.


Glaucoma is a symptomless condition that gradually causes total vision loss if not diagnosed and treated early. Glaucoma develops in many patients who don’t have glaucoma. However, studies have shown that diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.

If you’re a diabetic, you should have eye exams on a more regular basis. Talk to your eye doctor to find out how often you should be having eye exams.

Can’t remember the last time you had an eye exam? Have more questions about diabetic retinopathy or diabetic eye diseases?

Schedule an appointment at Premier Eye Care of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls, ID to discuss your concerns with one of our eye doctors!