Eye problems are common in people with diabetes, but older patients with the disease are the most likely to experience the ocular complications of diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Although vision loss can be temporary in patients with diabetes, irreversible blindness is also a potential risk associated with the disease.

People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts, which is a clouding of the eye lens that causes people not to be able to see things clearly. According to information from the American Diabetes Association, a person with diabetes is around 60 percent more likely to develop a cataract than a person who is not diabetic. If a person experiences blurred vision, poor night vision, glares off of objects, distorted vision or an inability to distinguish between similar colors, cataracts may be present.

The American Diabetes Association also reports that diabetics are 40 percent more likely to get glaucoma than non-diabetics. Glaucoma is another one of the ocular complications of diabetes. It is the leading cause of blindness in the United States when it goes uncontrolled. This condition takes place when a person’s ocular fluid drainage system is not working the way it should. When fluid builds up, more pressure is put on the nerves in the eye, which can harm them. Peripheral vision loss is one of the major signs that a person may be experiencing the onset of glaucoma.

Retinal detachment is also associated with diabetes. This happens when blood vessels bleed out and cause scar tissue to form. This unnecessary scar tissue can cause the retina to become pulled off of its base. Vision problems such as blurred vision, the presence of “floaters” in the vision field, flashing lights or black spots are signs of retinal detachment. Sudden vision loss may also take place, making retinal detachment one of the more serious ocular complications of diabetes.


How To Prevent and Treat the Ocular Complications of Diabetes


Regular visits to an eye doctor should be a priority for all diabetic patients to prevent or delay the ocular complications of diabetes. An optometrist is a good doctor for a diabetic to schedule annual appointments with because they are specially trained to look at the eye and spot problems that may be taking place. This can lead to a timely intervention that will ultimately prevent blindness. An ophthalmologist may be necessary to treat eye problems that are found through the use of medicine or surgery. Laser therapy is a common treatment for the ocular complications of diabetes.

Unfortunately, age is a factor when it comes to ocular complications of diabetes, especially in women. One study showed that 9.9% of men and 13.3 percent of women over the age of 65 who had diabetes experienced some sort of visual problem, a small fraction of which had total blindness. Patients who are 65 or older should give special attention to their eye care.