How Diabetes Impacts Eyes and Vision

Your eyesight is likely not your first worry when you’re diagnosed with diabetes, but it’s a potentially major complication if you can’t get your blood sugar under control. 

In fact, blurry vision might be the first symptom of type 2 diabetes you can recognize. 

Elevated blood sugar affects systems all over your body, so it’s common to have a team of health care practitioners on board to assist you with diabetes management. 

The optometric physicians at Accent Vision Specialists are the ideal choice for diabetic eye care at one of the largest and most comprehensive eye care centers in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The background on diabetes

Diabetes isn’t a single condition, but a group of diseases that each impact you by affecting how your body uses sugar in your blood. 

Glucose is a particular type of sugar that your cells use as fuel. Insulin is the hormone that regulates when your cells accept glucose. Diabetic diseases interfere with insulin communication within the body. 

Type 1 diabetics don’t manufacture insulin in their bodies normally. Type 2 diabetics either lose the ability to make insulin or their bodies become resistant to the effects of insulin, requiring more than their bodies can make. 

Regardless of the cause or type of diabetes, you end up with dangerously high levels of glucose in the bloodstream that cause damage throughout the body. 

The effects of diabetes on your vision

Changes to your vision often depend on the severity of your diabetes and how well you control your blood sugar levels. Your primary care physician or internist may recommend eye exams every 12 to 24 months. 

There are many ways your eyes can be affected by elevated blood sugar. Several of the most common effects are listed here. 

Blurred vision

The lenses of your eyes can swell due to the effects of high blood glucose. This is particularly noticeable for type 2 diabetics when they’re first diagnosed. 

The blurriness reduces as you get your blood sugar levels under control, but it can take up to three months before the effects on your lenses reverse. 

You should always let us know about any changes to your vision after your blood sugar is under control. 


Cataracts are common as you age, but people with diabetes may get them sooner and more quickly. 

With cataracts, the lenses of your eyes become increasingly cloudy. They affect your vision as a smudge on eyeglasses would. Your vision becomes blurred or imprecise, colors may seem less vivid, and you may have trouble with night driving. 

Left untreated, cataracts can cause blindness, but simple surgery can replace your natural lenses with artificial replacements. 


Glaucoma is another eye condition that’s more common for people with diabetes. Fluid naturally drains from your eye, but when you have glaucoma this drainage gets interrupted and pressure begins to build, leading to damaged nerves or blood vessels. 

Diabetic retinopathy

The retinas in your eyes perform the critical function of converting light into signals that your brain interprets as images. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retinas, compromising your ability to see. 

As with many conditions, early detection often meets easier treatments and better prognosis. Call us to today arrange your diabetic eye exam, or for any other issue related to eye health. 

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