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Diabetes Eye Problems

Clinical Overview
Reviewed by Deborah Wexler, MD

How can diabetes hurt my eyes?

High blood glucose and high blood pressure from diabetes can hurt four parts of your eye:

  • The retina (RET-ih-nuh). The retina is the lining at the back of the eye. The retina's job is to sense light coming into the eye. Retinopathy is when abnormal blood vessels grow over the retina. The abnormal vessels can cause bleeding in the eye and interfere with vision. Early treatment of the abnormal vessels with laser surgery prevents vision loss.

  • The vitreous (VIT-ree-uhss). The vitreous is a jelly-like fluid that fills the back of the eye. It can detach from the back of the eye and cause vision loss.

  • The lens. The lens is at the front of the eye. It focuses light on the retina. Cataracts, which are more common in people with diabetes but occur in many people without diabetes, are cloudy areas on the lens.

  • The optic nerve. The optic nerve is the eye's main connection to the brain.

    Last updated: Dec-18-07

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