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Diabetes eye care

Diabetic retinopathy - care


Diabetes - retinal conditions


Diabetes can harm your eyes. It can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, which is the back part of your eye. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases your risk of having glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems.

If you have diabetes, work with your health care provider to take good care of your eyes.

Diabetes and Your Eyes

If you have diabetes, you may not know there is any damage to your eyes until the problem is very bad. Your provider can catch problems early if you get regular eye exams.

If your provider finds eye problems early, medicines and other treatments may help prevent them from getting worse.

You Need Regular Eye Exams

Every year, you should have an eye exam by an eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist). Choose an eye doctor who takes care of people with diabetes.

Your eye exam may include:

Your eye doctor may ask you to come more or less often than once a year depending on the eye exam results and how well your blood sugar is controlled.

How to Prevent Eye Problems

Control your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar increases your chance of having eye problems.

High blood sugar can also cause blurred vision that is not related to diabetic retinopathy. This kind of blurred vision is caused by having too much sugar and water in the lens of the eye, which is in front of the retina.

Control your blood pressure:

Control your cholesterol levels:

Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, ask your provider.

If you already have eye problems, ask your provider if you should avoid exercises that can strain the blood vessels in your eyes. Exercises that may make eye problems worse include:

Make it Easier for Yourself at Home

If your vision is affected by diabetes, make sure your home is safe enough that your chance of falling is low. Ask your provider about having a home assessment done. For people with diabetes, the combination of poor vision and nerve problems in the legs and feet can affect balance. This increases the chance of falling.

If you cannot read the labels on your medicines easily:

Never guess when taking your medicines. If you are unsure of your doses, talk with your provider, nurse, or pharmacist.

Keep medicines and other household items organized in a cabinet so you know where they are.

To make foods that are on your diabetes meal plan:

When to Call the Doctor

Contact your provider if you have any of the following:

Related Information

Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure in adults – hypertension
Diabetes and eye disease
Preventing falls
Diabetes - when you are sick
Diabetes - preventing heart attack and stroke
Diabetes - taking care of your feet
Diabetes tests and checkups
Diabetes and exercise
Diabetes - keeping active
Low blood sugar - self-care
Managing your blood sugar


American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Preferred practice pattern guidelines. Diabetic retinopathy PPP 2019. Updated October 2019. Accessed May 28, 2024.

American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 12. Retinopathy, neuropathy, and foot care: Standards of Care in Diabetes-2024. Diabetes Care. 2024;47(Suppl 1):S231-S243. PMID: 38078577

Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Sun JK, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 37.

Dhatariya KK, Umpierrez GE, Crandall JP. Diabetes. In: Goldman L, Cooney KA, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 27th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2024:chap 210.

Salmon JF. Retinal vascular disease. In: Salmon JF, ed. Kanski's Clinical Ophthalmology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap13.


Review Date: 5/20/2024  

Reviewed By: Sandeep K. Dhaliwal, MD, board-certified in Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, Springfield, VA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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