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5 Diabetes-Related Vision Issues

Even though we’ve shined the spotlight on the fact that November is Diabetic Eye Disease Month before, we can’t miss the opportunity to take a closer look at these five diabetes-related vision issues for more eye-opening information on this important topic!

Problems with your eyelids.

Did you know that diabetes-related vision issues can actually affect several parts of the eye? It can affect the lids, muscles, cornea, retina, lens and nerves, in fact. When it comes to eyelids, common eye conditions include styes and blepharitis. 

To clarify, blepharitis refers to chronic inflammation of the eyelids that leads to discomfort. Symptoms can include itchy eyes, light sensitivity and a gritty feeling that could be worse right when you wake up, for example. 

Extraocular muscle irregularities. 

The third, fourth, and sixth nerves regulate the extraocular muscles surrounding the eyeball. Those muscles help support normal eye function. 

Elevated blood sugar levels can damage these nerves, leading to nerve palsy. One main symptom of nerve palsy is the inability to move the eyes in a specific direction. Other symptoms could include double vision and eye discomfort early on. 

Damage to the retina.

Two of the more well-known diabetes-related vision issues actually involve the retina. 

First, there’s retinopathy. Retinopathy is basically caused by damage to the blood vessels located in the retina. According to the American Diabetes Association, it’s the leading cause of preventable blindness. Symptoms can include blurred vision, floaters or blank spaces of vision, for instance. 

Macular edema is the other common diabetes-related eye disease. It occurs when blood vessels leak into a part of the retina known as the macula. The leakage makes the macula swell, which leads to blurry vision. 

Changes to the lens.

Diabetes can lead to structural changes in the lens of the eye over time. Some of this can speed up the development of cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens of the eye. 

High blood sugar can also cause fluctuating myopia, also known as nearsightedness. It can make the lens swell and modify its refractive power, leading to blurred vision. 

Optic nerve issues. 

From optic nerves becoming infected to eye diseases such as glaucoma, people with diabetes tend to be more susceptible to optic nerve abnormalities. 


The good news is that these diabetes-related vision issues are treatable. Better yet, with regular diabetic eye exams and maintaining blood sugar at target levels, many of these vision issues can be delayed or possibly prevented. If you or someone you love is diabetic, be sure to talk to your eye doctor about any symptoms or concerns you may have. For more vision health news and eye care tips, keep reading our blogs.