How does diabetes affect the eyes?

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How does diabetes affect the eyes?

Diabetes mellitus and vision are interrelated, since an excess of glucose in the blood leads to the destruction of blood vessels (and the appearance of new ones) in the eyeballs, clouding of the lens, and retinal detachment. Most often, diabetics develop retinopathy , cataracts, and glaucoma. The progression of these pathologies can be stopped, as well as complete blindness can be avoided – a timely visit to a doctor is necessary.

Treatment of ophthalmic complications in diabetes mellitus can be carried out with drugs (drops, vitamins) or surgery (laser method). There are a number of preventive measures that, even at the initial stage of pathology, help prevent the early and rapid development of vision problems.

How does diabetes affect the eyes?

Diabetes mellitus affects vision from the very beginning, it is the main cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 75 years. An increased blood glucose level provokes edema of the lens, and this affects the quality of vision.

Diabetes mellitus negatively affects the state of blood vessels, the tissues of the eyeballs are poorly supplied with oxygen. And if a person does not pay attention to the symptoms, does not undergo treatment, then already in the first 5 years after the diagnosis is made, patients begin to go blind.

Diabetes can cause temporary myopia, but if a person corrects and maintains normal blood sugar levels, vision will be restored.

Does blindness threaten?

Complete blindness in diabetes mellitus is quite real, but it comes gradually. First, due to high blood sugar levels, small blood vessels in the retina of the eye become clogged. If at this stage treatment is not started, then blood circulation is impaired, which leads to chronic oxygen starvation of the eye tissues.

The body will begin to compensate for this condition, which will lead to the growth of new vessels in the eye – they are small and fragile, often burst, and hemorrhage only aggravates the clinical picture. The result of the described process is the “wrinkling” of the retina, its detachment and complete irreversible loss of vision.

Eye diseases in diabetes

Most often, diabetes mellitus develops three eye diseases: glaucoma, cataracts, retinopathy . At the same time, diabetic retinopathy accounts for 70–80% of all cases, the rest – 20–30%.

Diabetic retinopathy

This is a complication of vascular diabetes mellitus associated with irreversible damage to small vessels in the retina of the eyeball. The longer a person ignores the need to treat diabetes mellitus, the more he violates the recommendations of an endocrinologist, the faster the destruction of blood vessels will occur.

As the underlying disease progresses, vision also deteriorates: first, the patient sees everything as if in a fog, then parts of the “picture” begin to “fall out”. This is a sign that the cells of the eyeball have begun to die off. Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 4 stages. The most dangerous is the one in which there is an overgrowth of fibrous tissue and retinal detachment. Without surgery, at this point, the patient will go completely blind.


An increase in intraocular pressure is called glaucoma. The reason for this is the formation of new blood vessels in the eyeballs.

Glaucoma symptoms:

  • the appearance of light circles / halos before the eyes;
  • pain in the eyeballs towards the end of the day;
  • feeling of pressure inside the eyes.

In addition, severe itching in the eyes may be felt, the person begins to react sharply to light and prefers semi-darkness. If you do not start treatment for glaucoma, then within 1–2 years it will lead to complete loss of vision. In the absence of stabilization of blood sugar levels, glaucoma develops 5 times faster (from the moment the first symptoms appear to complete blindness, it may take only a few months).


This disease is associated with the clouding of the lens – a process caused by constant jumps in blood sugar, the accumulation of glucose in the structure of the lens, which causes it to become denser and cloudy. Diabetic cataracts can be real and false, can appear at any age and at any stage of diabetes development.

If a patient visits a doctor in a timely manner, undergoes an examination and a full course of treatment, then recovery will come within 2-3 weeks. In advanced cases, there is a complete loss of vision.

Other causes of eye complications

Diabetes eye complications are not always associated with high or unstable blood sugar levels. There may be other reasons:

  • multiple sclerosis;
  • some systemic diseases (lupus erythematosus);
  • persistently low blood pressure;
  • eye injuries;
  • inflammatory and infectious diseases of the organs of vision;
  • long-term use of certain medications.

If a person with diabetes mellitus notes a decrease in visual acuity, then you should not panic – this is not necessarily retinopathy , glaucoma or cataracts.

Initial symptoms of visual impairment in diabetes

In the presence of diabetes mellitus in the anamnesis, certain symptoms must be alerted, even if they are not sufficiently pronounced:

  • periodic appearance of spots, light circles, “flies” before the eyes;
  • clouding of the “picture”;
  • tingling in the eyes, a feeling of “sand” against the background of the absence of general fatigue and drowsiness;
  • severe dryness of the mucous membrane of the eyes;
  • decreased visual acuity.

Vision diagnostics

Diagnosis of vision problems in diabetes mellitus is difficult, because the symptoms of pathologies are identical and sometimes not at all associated with a specific disease. The ophthalmologist will refer such a patient for an examination of the fundus with the help of special devices, and this will help:

  • assess the level of transparency of the lens;
  • determine the degree of retinal detachment or “wrinkling”;
  • to reveal the beginning of destruction of blood vessels of the eyes.

Based on the results of the examination, the doctor will clarify the diagnosis and establish the severity of the disease, which will help determine the treatment protocol. Someone will be helped by correction of nutrition and constant monitoring of sugar levels, but many patients will have to be treated with specific medications after the first visit to an ophthalmologist.

How to restore vision in diabetes with surgery

In diabetes mellitus, surgery is prescribed only in case of critical loss of vision, when it is not possible to restore it with drugs. Surgical interventions are justified for glaucoma, cataract, retinopathy .

Laser surgery

The most modern, popular and effective is laser coagulation of the retina – the formation of pathological blood vessels (new ones as compensation) stops. If the operation is performed with complete clouding of the lens (complex cataract), then it is completely removed, and vision is restored by installing an intraocular lens.

Any surgical interventions are carried out using laser technologies, implying minimizing the risk of side effects (complications), no recovery period and long hospitalization.

Vision correction for diabetes

If vision in diabetes begins to decline steadily, then you need to take measures to correct it.

  • Visit an ophthalmologist 2 times a year for a follow-up examination. This will allow timely identification of critical changes in the eyeball and prevent complete blindness.
  • Accurately follow all the prescriptions of the attending endocrinologist: take medications, administer insulin injections. This will help to constantly maintain blood sugar levels within the normal range, which will reduce the likelihood of rapid progression of cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy .
  • Wear corrective glasses at all times if necessary. About the advisability of wearing contact lenses, you need to consult with specialists – often it is diabetes mellitus that becomes a contraindication to this method of correcting visual acuity.
  • Observe the rules of work (wakefulness) and rest during the day. If the patient is forced to spend a lot of time at the computer or reading papers (the specifics of work), then he must look at the window every hour, blink frequently.

According to statistics, those patients with diabetes who closely monitor the state of the organs of vision and follow all the recommendations of doctors, many times reduce the risk of complete blindness.

Treatment with eye drops for type II diabetes

Eye drops

If type II diabetes is diagnosed, then eye drops are prescribed for vision problems, which can slow down the development of glaucoma, cataracts or retinopathy . Appointments depend on what kind of ophthalmic disease will be diagnosed by the doctor:

  • Fotin , Timolol , Betaxolol – for glaucoma;
  • Katakhrom , Katalin , Taufon – with cataract;
  • Vitafacol , Quinax , Riboflavin – for retinopathy .

Usually, eye drops for diabetes mellitus are used according to the following scheme: in each eye, 2-3 drops twice a day. The duration of treatment, as a rule, is 2 weeks, but sometimes therapy can take 1.5–2 months.

Will vitamins help if eyesight falls in diabetes mellitus?

If vision loss has begun in diabetes mellitus, then it is necessary to take vitamin preparations daily (possibly in parallel with therapy with eye drops). As a result of metabolic disorders caused by diabetes mellitus, the body does not receive additional micro- and macroelements, which results in oxygen starvation, slowing down the functionality of all organs and systems, including the eyes.


Diabetics with diagnosed ophthalmic diseases should take:

  • ascorbic acid (strengthens general immunity, makes the walls of blood vessels more elastic);
  • B vitamins (stabilize blood sugar levels, normalize the functioning of the central nervous system);
  • retinol (vitamin A – improves visual acuity, improves night vision);
  • tocopherol (vitamin E – strengthens blood vessels, ensures the rapid removal of glucose breakdown products from the body);
  • vitamin P (rutin – promotes the expansion of blood vessels, improves circulation in them).

In addition, it is advisable for diabetics to take vitamin complexes produced in the form of eye drops. For example, at the initial stage of diabetic retinopathy, drops of Prenacid or Quinax are prescribed . Dietary supplements such as Blueberry-Forte, Selenium-Active are not effective. But if diabetes is just diagnosed, they can be recommended as a means of preventing the early onset of vision problems.

How to prevent vision deterioration and loss in diabetes

Examination by an ophthalmologist

Preventive measures against deterioration and loss of vision in diabetes mellitus are as follows:

  • constantly monitor and maintain blood sugar levels within the normal range;
  • limit the time spent at the computer, tablet, use of the phone;
  • do not read printed materials while lying down or in poor lighting;
  • do not violate and do not independently adjust the prescription of the attending physician, take all medications strictly according to the scheme;
  • follow a diet;
  • be examined by an ophthalmologist at least once every six months.

Statistics show that diabetes mellitus will lead to vision problems anyway. But with the timely detection of pathologies, proper treatment of the main endocrinological disease and adherence to all the recommendations of doctors, patients will be able to preserve their vision (albeit not in full) until old age.

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