Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

How Diabetes Causes Blindness - Topic Overview

Other eye problems

People who have diabetes are also at risk for other problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma, that damage vision. They are also at risk for a severe form of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma. Cataracts are frequently caused by a lifetime of sun exposure, and diabetes speeds up their formation.

The following table outlines the major causes of blindness in people who have diabetes.

Causes of blindness and how to prevent it

Condition

How it causes vision loss

Preventive measures

Diabetic retinopathyDamages the retina, the section of your eye responsible for capturing visual information
  • Controlling hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Having regular eye exams
  • Using laser surgery early to treat retinopathy
GlaucomaIncreases pressure in the eye, which results in damage to your retina
  • Having regular eye exams to check for the disease
CataractsCloud the lens, the section of your eye responsible for focusing light on your retina
  • Protecting your eyes from ionizing radiation (X-rays) and UV radiation (sunlight)
  • Controlling blood sugar levels

If you notice problems with your vision, you should immediately seek medical evaluation by an ophthalmologist. Regular eye exams are meant to detect any retinopathy at the nonproliferative stage, where it may still be treated with a good chance of success.

If nonproliferative retinopathy is not detected and treated early, it may progress to proliferative retinopathy. During proliferative retinopathy, your body tries to correct the microaneurysms. To replace blood vessels that have broken or leaked, new blood vessels begin to form. These blood vessels are fragile and may break easily, causing bleeding into the middle of the eye and clouding vision. They also form scar tissue that can pull on the retina and cause the retina to detach from the wall of the eye.

With aggressive management of your condition—keeping hemoglobin A1c levels below 7% and controlling blood pressure—along with regular screening of your vision, you may be able to prevent or delay blindness.

1|2
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

How Diabetes Causes Blindness Topics

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article