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Diabetes is a chronic illness that develops when the body is unable to secrete or use insulin to manage blood glucose (sugar) levels. Too much sugar in the blood can damage the heart, lungs and tiny blood vessels in the eye. Diabetic retinopathy, cataract, macular oedema and glaucoma are common types of diabetic-related eye disease.

What are the symptoms of diabetic-related eye disease?

The shape of the eye lens changes when blood sugar levels rise quickly and vision returns as soon as blood sugar levels stabilise.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are:

  • Dry, scratchy eyes
  • Warped vision
  • Vision loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Floaters (shapes obscuring vision)
  • Red eyes
  • Eye pain

What are the causes of diabetic-related eye disease?

Diabetic-related eye diseases are primarily caused by unmanaged or undiagnosed diabetes. This can lead to conditions such as macular oedema, which occurs when blood vessels in the retina begin to leak. Diabetic-related eye disease is a serious condition with severe complications. If left untreated, diabetic eye disease and macular oedema can lead to permanent vision loss.

How do you diagnose diabetic-related eye disease?

If you are diabetic, regular yearly eye screenings for diabetic eye disease are recommended. Retinal assessment tests, slit-lamp screening and photographs are taken during these screenings to identify damage to the eyes and prevent permanent blindness.

How do you treat diabetic-related eye disease?

The first line of treatment is to manage the effects of diabetes by taking the appropriate medications and by attending regular eye screenings. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating healthily can help manage diabetes. Diabetic-related eye disease such as diabetic retinopathy can be treated using anti-VEGF medication injections, laser and the surgical removal of bleeding or scar tissue.

Laser treatments are quick 5 to 15-minute procedures that focus energy onto the retina to restore eyesight or prevent further vision loss. During this procedure, local anaesthesia is administered to prevent pain, but you may experience a pricking sensation.


“Vision is the true creative rhythm”

- Robert Delaunay