Health Information

Diabetic Retinopathy and Other Eye Problems

What eye problems are often associated with diabetes?

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that may occur in persons with diabetes as a complication. All can cause severe vision loss or even blindness. Diabetic eye disease can often be treated before vision loss occurs. All people with diabetes should have a dilated eye examination at least once a year.

Diabetic eye diseases include the following:
  • diabetic retinopathy
  • cataract
  • glaucoma

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease in persons with diabetes.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, retinal blood vessels may swell and leak fluid, while in others, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. These changes may result in vision loss or blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy cannot be completely avoided, but the risk can be greatly reduced. Better control of blood sugar level slows the onset and progression of retinopathy and reduces the need for laser surgery for severe retinopathy.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy:

Specific treatment for diabetic retinopathy will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Diabetic retinopathy is often treated with laser surgery to shrink the abnormal blood vessels or to seal the leaking ones.