Eye Defects and Symptoms Associated With Diabetes

Once you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes it’s important to schedule regular visits with your eye doctor. These are the symptoms and eye defects to look for.

Diabetes affects more and more people every year. Most people have type 2 diabetes, which develops later in life and can be created from poor diets, stress, and lifestyle choices.

The number of people in America with type 2 diabetes has doubled within the past year. While type 1 and type 2 are different and are treated differently, both require major changes in lifestyle and diet.

If not cared for properly, diabetes can create major issues and wreak havoc on the human body. High blood sugar over several years can weaken or damage the blood vessels in the back of one’s eyes.

The good news: people with diabetes are surviving to very old ages with new technology, research, and advanced medical treatments. We’ve done the research for you and have compiled a guide on eye defects and other symptoms associated with diabetes.

Diabetes and Eye Defects

Diabetes can create eye defects. The high blood sugars cause substantial damage to the vessels that function as the conduit for blood supply for the retinas. This is the layer of cells that send messages from your retinas to your brain about what you’re seeing.

The technical name for this defect is diabetic retinopathy. Sometimes this causes a further leakage of fluid from the vessels. As the blood vessels try to repair themselves and grow, it actually creates more damage to the eyesight of a diabetic because they are weak vessels and therefore easily damaged.

The small part near the middle of your eye field is a tightly packed center filled with light-sensitive cells. This is what gives eyesight the fine detail. In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, the scar tissue and fluid builds up on the macula and eventually causes macular edema.

This affects many people with diabetes and is a very common cause of blindness in middle-aged adults with diabetes.

The Symptoms

The beginning stages of eye defects in a diabetic might not be so noticeable. You might not have any symptoms at the beginning. However, the disease can progress quickly even if unnoticed, until it starts to affect a person’s eyesight.

Any floating spots in one’s eye should be noted. This is a major sign that eye defects are flaring up. Floating red spots are a sign of bleeding from the abnormal retinal blood vessels.

Sometimes the spots will go away on their own, however, if not properly treated the bleeding will continue until permanent vision loss occurs. If you don’t trust your own inspection of your eyes, then leave it to the professionals.

An eye exam can detect any eye defects. They use visual acuity testing, tonometry, pupil dilation and optical coherence tomography to inspect and evaluate your vision. Through ultrasounds using light waves, they can evaluate the health of your eye tissue.

A dilated eye can show the doctor if there have been changes to blood vessels, or if any vessels are leaking. It can also show fatty deposits that may be dangerous to your vision, and any swelling that may be occurring.


Prevention is key when it comes to eye defects in diabetics. Because vision lost to diabetic retinopathy is irreversible, it’s important to detect it as early as possible.

Prevention lies in regularly inspecting your own eyes and also having them examined on a regular basis by a doctor. Have your eyes dilated in an exam at least twice a year.


Eye screening is an important form of treatment because it picks up on the changes happening in your eyes. This allows you to prepare for treatment before permanent damage occurs. If you have already developed early retinopathy, then it will be essential for you to work on your blood glucose control.

Previously there were few treatments for eye defects in diabetes aside from regular and strict glucose control. This will always be a key element for treatment, but now there are new procedures available.

Depending on your symptoms, you can have laser surgery to seal off the influx of new blood vessels growing on the back of the eye. Another option is an injection of vascular endothelial growth factor.

This is a licensed treatment for macular edema. This can slow down the damage process and get the proper blood vessels back into functioning form. It can also help with floating spots and fat deposits.


A vitrectomy is the surgical removal of the vitreous gel that lies in the center of the eye. This new procedure is used by doctors to stop severe bleeding in the eye into the vitreous. This surgery does require general anesthesia.

The doctor uses ports (temporary water-tight openings) in the eye which creates a safe space for doctors to use their instruments. A salt solution is then pumped into the eye through the ports

This maintains pressure in the eye when the vitreous is removed. This might sometimes require an overnight stay in the hospital. Following the procedure, you’ll need to use a patch over your eyes for a few days or a few weeks.

If treatment doesn’t work, your doctor may make some referrals to low vision and rehabilitation services. He might suggest some devices that will make the most of the remaining vision.

Screen, Screen, Screen

It is most important to have your eyes checked regularly. Especially if you have diabetes. Regular diabetes retinopathy screening should be scheduled to catch eye defects in their earliest stages.

Both diabetic retinopathy and macular edema will get increasingly worse if they aren’t treated properly. You are at more risk to develop one of these eye defects if you have had diabetes for longer than five years.

Furthermore, if you have diabetes you are more likely to develop cataracts and glaucoma. All of these things are treatable if you catch them in their early development and have your eyes checked.

You only get one set of eyes, so it’s important they are taken care of. When you’re ready to for total eye health care and an evaluation, contact us today.