Understanding How Type 2 Diabetes Can Affect Eye Health

When you're diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you quickly learn that poorly controlled blood sugar levels can cause problems for several parts of your body including your eyes. High blood sugar levels can cause changes to your vision as a result of damaging the cells in your eyes. This can put you at an increased risk of developing certain eye conditions, particularly if your blood sugar levels are high for a prolonged period of time. Here's an overview of three eye conditions that are relatively common in those with type 2 diabetes.


A cortical cataract is characterised by the development of protein clusters on the lens of your eye. When you have a high concentration of sugar in your blood, the cell structure within the lens can be damaged, and this causes the protein in the cells to leak out and congeal on the outer edges of your lens. Initially, a cortical cataract will cause distorted vision and can reduce peripheral vision. Left untreated, this eye condition could lead to complete loss of vision. Treatment of a cortical cataract involves surgical removal of the affected lens. This is achieved by breaking up the lens with a small laser, removing the pieces with a suction tool and slotting an artificial lens into the lens holder.

Visual Disturbances

High blood sugar can cause inflammation in the eyes and lead to an imbalance of fluid, both of which can cause your lenses to swell. Swollen lenses can cause you to experience visual disturbances, such as floaters and flashes in your peripheral vision and blurred vision. You can resolve the problems caused by swollen lenses by keeping your blood glucose levels under control. While you're working on this with your diabetic nurse or dietician, your optometrist can prescribe eye drops to help the swelling go down and prevent your eyes from drying out, which can slow down the healing process.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when poorly managed diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, which is located at the back of the eye. The retina sends signals to your brain to process the images you see, but damaged retinal blood vessels can lead to distorted vision and even blindness. The damaged blood vessels can't be repaired, but laser surgery can prevent further damage to your sight by sealing off damaged areas.

Your optometrist can diagnose all of the above eye conditions during a routine eye exam. Regular eye exams are crucial for those with type 2 diabetes, as problems can be detected and treated before you develop any symptoms, which can reduce long-term damage to your eyes. So, if you've been experiencing any issues with your site, or any eye pain or irritation, schedule an eye exam with your optometrist as soon as possible to discuss your eye care