||Too much sugar in the blood for a long time
causes diabetes problems. This high blood sugar can damage many parts of the
body, such as the eyes, heart, and blood vessels. Diabetes problems can be
scary, but there is a lot you can do to prevent them or slow them down.
This booklet is about eye problems caused by diabetes. You will learn the
things you can do each day and during each year to stay healthy and prevent
||High blood sugar can cause eye problems.
||Follow the healthy eating plan that you and your doctor or dietitian
have worked out. Eat your meals and snacks at around the same times each
||Be active a total of 30 minutes most days. Ask your doctor what
activities are best for you.
||Take your diabetes medicine at the same times each day.
||Check your blood sugar every day. Each time you check your blood
sugar, write the number in your record book. Call your doctor if your
numbers are too high or too low for 2 to 3 days.
||Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, sores, swelling,
redness, or sore toenails.
||Brush and floss your teeth and gums every day.
- Keep your blood sugar and blood pressure as close to normal as you
- Have an eye doctor examine your eyes once a year. Have this exam even
if your vision is OK. The eye doctor will use drops to make the black part
of your eyes (pupils) bigger. This is called dilating (DY-lay-ting) your
pupil, which allows the doctor to see your retina. Finding eye problems
early and getting treatment right away will help prevent more serious
problems later on.
| Dilated eye
|| Undilated eye
- Ask your eye doctor to check for signs of cataracts and glaucoma.
- If you are pregnant and have diabetes, see an eye doctor during your
first 3 months.
- If you are planning to get pregnant, ask your doctor if you should
have an eye exam.
- Don't smoke
||High blood sugar and high blood pressure from
diabetes can hurt four parts of your eye:
- Retina (REH-ti-nuh). The retina is the lining at the back of
the eye. The retina's job is to sense light coming into the eye.
- Vitreous (VIH-tree-us). The vitreous is a jelly-like fluid that
fills the back of the eye.
- Lens. The lens is at the front of the eye and it focuses light
on the retina.
- Optic nerve. The optic nerve is the eye's main nerve to the
||This is a picture of
an eye from the side.
||Retina damage happens slowly. Your retinas have
tiny blood vessels that are easy to damage. Having high blood sugar and high
blood pressure for a long time can damage these tiny blood vessels.
First, these tiny blood vessels swell and weaken. Some blood vessels then
become clogged and do not let enough blood through. At first, you might not
have any loss of sight from these changes. This is why you need to have a
dilated eye exam once a year even if your sight seems fine.
One of your eyes may be damaged more than the other. Or both eyes may
have the same amount of damage.
Diabetic retinopathy (REH-tih-NOP-uh-thee) is the medical term for the
most common diabetes eye problem.
Vision affected by diabetic retinopathy
||As diabetes retina problems get worse, new
blood vessels grow. These new blood vessels are weak. They break easily and
leak blood into the vitreous of your eye. The leaking blood keeps light from
reaching the retina.
You may see floating spots or almost total darkness. Sometimes the blood
will clear out by itself. But you might need surgery to remove it.
Over the years, the swollen and weak blood vessels can form scar tissue
and pull the retina away from the back of the eye. If the retina becomes
detached, you may see floating spots or flashing lights.
You may feel as if a curtain has been pulled over part of what you are
looking at. A detached retina can cause loss of sight or blindness if you
don't take care of it right away.
Call your doctor right away if you think you have a detached retina.
||First, keep your blood sugar and blood pressure
as close to normal as you can.
Your eye doctor may suggest laser treatment, which is when a light beam
is aimed into the retina of the damaged eye. The beam closes off leaking
blood vessels. It may stop blood and fluid from leaking into the vitreous.
Laser treatment may slow the loss of sight.
If a lot of blood has leaked into your vitreous and your sight is poor,
your eye doctor might suggest you have surgery called a vitrectomy (vih-TREK-toh-mee).
A vitrectomy removes blood and fluids from the vitreous of your eye. Then
clean fluid is put back into the eye. The surgery often makes your eyesight
||You may not get any signs of diabetes retina
damage or you may get one or more signs:
- Blurry or double vision
- Rings, flashing lights, or blank spots
- Dark or floating spots
- Pain or pressure in one or both of your eyes
- Trouble seeing things out of the corners of your eyes.
||If you have retina damage from diabetes, you may
have blurry or double vision.
||Yes. You can get two other eye
problems--cataracts and glaucoma. People without diabetes can get these eye
problems, too. But people with diabetes get them more often and at a younger
- A cataract (KA-ter-act) is a cloud over the lens of your eye, which is
usually clear. The lens focuses light onto the retina. A cataract makes
everything you look at seem cloudy. You need surgery to remove the
cataract. During surgery your lens is taken out and a plastic lens, like a
contact lens, is put in. The plastic lens stays in your eye all the time.
Cataract surgery helps you see clearly again.
- Glaucoma (glaw-KOH-muh) starts from pressure building up in the eye.
Over time, this pressure damages your eye's main nerve--the optic nerve.
The damage first causes you to lose sight from the sides of your eyes.
Without treatment, you can go blind. Treating glaucoma is usually simple.
Your eye doctor will give you special drops to use every day to lower the
pressure in your eye. Or your eye doctor may want you to have laser