Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems patients with diabetes may face. They can all cause severe vision loss or even blindness.

Diabetic eye disease includes:

  • Diabetic retinopathy— The most common diabetic eye disease. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
  • Cataract— Clouding of the lens on the inside of the eye. Cataracts tend to develop at an earlier age in patients with diabetes.
  • Glaucoma—A patient diagnosed with diabetes is nearly 2x as likely to develop glaucoma. For more information about glaucoma please click here.

Am I at risk for diabetic retinopathy?

Several factors influence this:

  • Blood sugar control
  • Blood pressure levels
  • How long you have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • Genetics


The longer you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy. Almost every patient diagnosed with type 1 diabetes will eventually develop some form of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Many patients with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of retinopathy as well. The retinopathy that typically causes vision loss, proliferative retinopathy, is far less common.

Are there any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?

Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Once diabetic retinopathy begins to occur, you may not notice changes to your vision, but over time the retinopathy will worsen and can cause vision loss.

What can I do to protect my vision?

If you are diabetic, be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.