Uncontrolled Diabetes May Damage Your Vision Before You Know You Have the Disease

Submitted by Michael J. Elman, M.D. on April 13, 2023

Uncontrolled diabetes wreaks havoc on various parts of the body, and the eyes are especially vulnerable. Unfortunately, some people with diabetes are unaware of their condition until they notice changes in vision or other symptoms.

Elman Retina Group’s Dr. Michael Elman, Dr. Sidney “Sid” Schechet and Dr. David Dao are experts at diagnosing and treating diabetes-related vision issues. Below, our doctors discuss what to know about uncontrolled diabetes and the consequences for vision.

Uncontrolled Diabetes

When your diabetes is uncontrolled, that means your blood sugar levels are too high. Blurry vision is an early sign of uncontrolled diabetes. Other symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent infections
  • Sores heal slowly
  • Unintended weight loss

Diabetic Retinopathy

One of the leading causes of vision loss in adults, diabetic retinopathy affects the eye’s small blood vessels. These damaged vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina. New, abnormal blood vessels can develop. Both eyes are usually affected.

Approximately 50 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms

Early diabetic retinopathy is generally asymptomatic. As it progresses, symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark areas in the visual field
  • Floaters
  • Poor night vision
  • Visual fluctuation

Contact your eye doctor immediately if these symptoms appear. Some of these symptoms can indicate a detached retina, which is a more serious complication.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy cannot restore lost vision but it can prevent the vision loss from progressing. Such treatment may consist of laser therapy, injection of anti-VEGF medication into the eye or eye surgery.

It is also essential to receive treatment for your diabetes and related issues, such as high blood pressure, from your primary care physician.

Other Diabetic Eye Conditions

Patients with diabetes are more susceptible to developing other conditions leading to vision loss. These include:

  • Glaucoma – Diabetics face a 40% higher risk of developing this disease affecting the optic nerve. Pressure builds up in the eye, and this pressure obstructs the vessels that provide blood to the optic nerve and retina. Without treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
  • Cataracts – There is a 60% higher risk of diabetics developing cataracts. Cataracts cause a clouding of the eye’s lens.
  • Retinal detachment – Diabetic retinopathy can cause scarring in the back of the eye. This can lead to the scars pulling the retina out of place.

Contact Elman Retina Group

Contact Elman Retina Group if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or are experiencing symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes, such as unexplained vision loss. Call or email us today to schedule an appointment with our doctors. A dilated eye exam will identify diabetic damage to the eyes.