What Diabetics Need to Know About Cataracts & Other Eye Conditions

A man holds his cheek with one hand and holds a contact lens in the other hand.

Diabetes comes with an onslaught of potential complications, high among those complications are eye problems. The good news? With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, many people with diabetes are able to prevent or delay the onset of these symptoms. In a situation where knowledge is power, knowing what to expect can be your best tool for preventative eye care. Here are 3 things people with diabetes need to know about cataracts and other eye conditions.

Diabetes Can Cause Vision Complications

There are three major eye conditions that people with diabetes need to be aware of: cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. Over time, diabetes can cause damage to your eyes that can lead to poor vision and potentially even blindness. Statistically, diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in adults ages 20 to 74.


Cataracts are a build-up of protein that clouds the lens of the eye. When this happens, light cannot enter and vision is restricted. The most common symptoms of cataracts are blurred vision and glared vision.


Glaucoma affects the optic nerve which is the thread that connects the eye to the brain and transmits light impulses. If there is excess pressure, it can cause damage to this optic nerve. While frequently there aren’t any symptoms from glaucoma, some people do experience watering eyes, blurred vision, halos around lights, headaches, and eye pain.


Diabetic retinopathy refers to disorders of the retina. These can stem from abnormal blood vessels forming in the eye or fluid seeping from the blood vessels into the eye. Regardless of the cause, it often leads to impaired vision, including possible blindness.

There Are Effective Ways to Make Sure Diabetes Doesn’t Affect Eye Health

Although there is no sure way to prevent diabetes-related eye conditions, there are actions you can take to delay the onset of complications. These include:

  • Schedule appointments for annual dilated eye exams
  • If you are a smoker: Get support to quit
  • Maintain your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible
  • Carefully manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol
  • Call your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms that may indicate an emergency, including holes or black spots in your vision and flashes of light.

Treatment Options Vary

There are different treatment options depending on the eye condition. Some treatment methods include:

  • Laser therapy
  • Surgery
  • Vitrectomy
  • Low vision aids
  • Drug therapy
  • Medicated eye drops
  • Glasses, contacts, or lens implants

Florida Eye Specialists offers educational materials, diagnostic exams, and treatment procedures. These resources are intended for anyone who has diabetes, cares for someone with diabetes, or simply wants to evaluate their own risk for eye disorders. Schedule an appointment today at any one of our eight locations throughout Jacksonville, Saint Augustine, and Palatka.