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Curious about Cataracts?


Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. While they are common in the aging population, it’s important to know that they can occur at a much earlier age when you have diabetes.

What Causes Cataracts

As you age, the lenses of your eyes become less flexible, less transparent and thicker. When you have diabetes, high blood sugar (blood glucose) levels over time can lead to structural changes in the lens of the eye that can accelerate the development of cataracts.

If you have diabetes, you might be at greater risk for developing cataracts depending on how long you’ve had it, the frequency of glucose levels above your target range and the presence of macular edema—fluid build-up in the macula (located in the center of the retina). You may not notice cataracts, since symptoms can be minor until clouding affects the center of the eye, at which point the cataract can progress rapidly.
Other causes of cataracts:

Know the Symptoms

How to Prevent Cataracts

Manage your glucose to stay within your target range (usually 80-180 mg/dL)

Know What to Do if You Get Them

If you start developing a cataract, you may be able to see better if you:

Cataract Surgery: The Ultimate Treatment

The purpose of your lens is to bend light rays that come into the eye to help you see.  Surgery removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. The artificial lens is placed in the same spot as your natural lens and remains a permanent part of your eye.

Cataract surgery can be done in either an outpatient setting or in a hospital. Your eye will be numbed with eye drops or with an injection around the eye. You will be awake during surgery and may see light and movement during the procedure, but you will not feel or see what the doctor is doing to your eye. The surgery itself may take only 10 minutes, but before you leave, you may need several hours of recovery after the procedure.

Recovering After Cataract Surgery

Here are some things to keep in mind after a cataract surgery:

If you have a cataract, consult with your eye doctor to find out the treatment options that are right for you. Find more resources to protect your eye health.



It's easy to take your eyesight for granted.


But if you imagine losing your
sight, it's devastating.

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old. And there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.

But the great news is an annual routine eye exam could prevent 95% of vision loss caused by diabetes.

Take control of your eye health

 
 
Dr. Nishan Pressley, DO, a VSP network doctor
 

Eye Doctor Saves Patient with Diabetes from Possibly Going Blind


– Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor.



 
 
 

Step 01


Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for prevention and early detection of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times long before you ever even experience other symptoms.

Wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes? We’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Learn your risk

 

Step 02


Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why regular comprehensive eye exams are so important—to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.

Understand diabetic eye disease

 

Step 03


Take Control of Your Eye Health


Routine eye exams can help identify problems that when treated can prevent or delay vision loss due to diabetic eye complications in many people with diabetes. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes don't get their eyes examined regularly and are diagnosed too late.

Schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

Find an eye care professional

And be sure to follow the other steps for healthy eyes, as well.

Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

Diabetic Eye Diseases


Some diabetic eye diseases have no obvious symptoms–but the damage done by high blood glucose levels can be caught early during a routine eye exam.

 

Diabetic Retinopathy


High blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in a part of your eye called the retina. There are various stages of diabetic eye disease. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common and serious type of eye problem associated with diabetes.

Symptoms
Often none. Also common: blurred vision, distorted vision, impaired colors, seeing spots, or vision loss


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Diabetic Macular Edema


Diabetic Macular Edema is when the tiny blood vessels in the retina leak fluid which builds up and causing swelling. This distorts vision and may lead to permanent vision loss.

Symptoms
Blurry, distorted, or wavy central vision. Color perception may also appear washed out.


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Glaucoma


Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to your optic nerve resulting in irreversible vision loss and is more common in people with diabetes.

Symptoms
Often none. Sometimes headaches, eye pain, blurred vision, watery/red eyes, halos, vision loss


Treatment
Good diabetes management including controlled blood glucose levels. Other treatment may include medication via injections or eyedrops, laser treatment, or surgery.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

Cataracts


Usually associated with age, cataracts are more common and occur earlier in people diagnosed with diabetes. With cataracts, the lens in your eye becomes cloudy due to the breakdown of proteins in the lens.

Symptoms
Blurred vision, hazy vision, halos around lights particularly at night


Treatment
Cataract surgery to replace the lens near the surface of the eye.


How to catch early
Annual dilated eye exam


Find an eye care professional

 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are often no clear symptoms of prediabetes so you may have it and not know it. In fact, many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for the early detection and prevention of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times these exams detect problems before you ever even experience other symptoms.

Wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes? We’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
 
Man holding glasses in away from his face
 

Take Control of Your Eye Health


Routine eye exams can identify problems that when treated can prevent or delay vision loss in many people with diabetes. Unfortunately many people with diabetes don’t get their eyes examined regularly and are diagnosed too late. Be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year.

Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

Find an eye care professional

And be sure to follow the other steps for healthy eyes, as well.


Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

Take Control of Your Eye Health


Most importantly, early detection by a professional could save your vision. There are other steps that can help, too.

 
Man getting an eye exam

Avoid vision loss and potentially catch conditions early.

Snellen chart

Routine exams should be done at least once a year.

 
 
 

Get Routine Eye Exams


It’s important to get a comprehensive eye exam with dilation every year to allow for a more thorough examination of your eye and to catch conditions early, before permanent damage is done.

Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine exams are so important—to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.

Eye health benefits are determined by your health care plan. Consider your network to learn your options when making an appointment.

Schedule appointments with your eye doctor at least once a year so they can detect any problems early and treat them.

 

Find an eye care professional

American Diabetes Association does not endorse any product or service.

Woman getting an eye exam
 
 

Monitor Your Blood Sugar


When your blood sugar is too high, it can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, causing blurry vision, which goes back to normal after your blood sugar stabilizes. High blood sugar can also damage the blood vessels in your eyes. Maintaining good control of your blood sugar helps prevent these problems.

Glucose Meter – Lancing Device – Test Strip
 
 

Monitor Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol


High blood pressure and high cholesterol can put you at greater risk for eye disease and vision loss. Keeping both under control will not only help your eyes but your overall health.

Stethoscope
 
 

Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices


Smoking increases your risk of diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions, but you can reduce that risk by quitting smoking. Regular exercise also has phenomenal health benefits—it can control diabetes and improve eye health.

Women in  Exercise Class
 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Risk for Diabetes


Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have prediabetes—blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes so you may have it and not know it. In fact, many people have prediabetes or diabetes for years without knowing it because early symptoms can be so easy to miss. That’s why an annual comprehensive eye exam is critical for prevention and early detection of diabetes-related eye complications. Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye, which your eye doctor can examine during an eye exam—often times long before you ever even experience other symptoms

If you haven’t been told you have diabetes and are wondering if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, we’re here to help. Take our free, 60-second online risk test—and if you are at risk for diabetes, talk to your health care team about getting tested.


Take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
Person's eye
 

Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine exams are so important–to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.


Understand diabetic eye disease

 
 
 

It’s Easy to Take Eyesight for Granted


But when your patients with diabetes or prediabetes lose their sight, it’s devastating.

 

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18-64 years old. And there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.

Learn how to look closer at your patients' eye health and take control with these resources:

Coming soon: Get continuing medical education credit!

 
 
Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor
 

Eye Doctor Saves Patient with Diabetes from Possibly Going Blind


– Dr. Nishan Pressley, OD, a VSP network doctor.



 
 
Couple standing outside
 

Know Your Patients' Risk for Diabetes


If a patient has a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, communicate the risk of eye conditions

For patients without a diagnosis, consider the American Diabetes Association’s 60-second online Risk Test to measure type 2 diabetes risk.


Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test

 
 
Person's eye
 

Know the Warning Signs of Diabetic Eye Disease


Some diabetic eye diseases have no signs or symptoms until they are too obvious to ignore, which might present as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dark spots or "holes"
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing an increased amount of floaters
  • Poor night vision

This is why routine eye exams are so important for your patients with diabetes and prediabetes to help avoid vision loss and potentially catch these conditions early.


More about these diseases

 
 
Man holding glasses in away from his face
 

Help Your Patients Take Control of Their Eye Health


Please communicate to your patients the importance of annual dilated eye exams.

If you’re a Primary Care Provider, help patients manage their risk for diabetes-related eye disease by providing referrals to get routine eye exams.

Managing diabetes is crucial, as is quitting smoking.


Take control of your eye health

 
 
 

The Latest

Stay up to date on news and tips you need to maintain your eye health, prevent vision loss and understand your risk for eye disease from experts you can trust—and others just like you.

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Ophthalmologist? Optometrist? Retina Specialist? What’s the Difference?

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Read more

 
 
 

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American Diabetes Association®, VSP® Vision Care and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are collaborating on a public health initiative to save sight in those living with diabetes. The multi-year campaign will raise awareness of the critical role eye exams can play in early detection and prevention of diabetes-related eye disease.

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