Three serious eye conditions accelerated by diabetes

Posted on: 12 November 2018 by 50connect editorial

Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in the UK and doubles the chance of developing a cataract. Here we highlight the three sight-related issues associated with the condition.

diabetes and eye health

Diabetes has been making headlines a lot over the past few years. With increased awareness and charities such as Diabetes UK and the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, the percentage of diabetics who are getting diagnosed quicker and living longer has increased.

Symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes vary from fatigue, thirst and unintentional loss of weight; plus various eyesight related problems which accompany these symptoms.

In fact diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in the UK and doubles the chance of developing a cataract.

Now, let’s highlight the three eye conditions most commonly associated with diabetes:



A cataract is the clouding of the natural lens in the eye. As it progresses it interferes with the way light passes through the eye, resulting in blurred vision; which cannot be rectified with prescription glasses or contact lenses.

People aged 70 and above are most at risk of developing a cataract in one or both eyes; however those who are diabetic tend to develop cataracts at a younger age, which also progresses faster.

If you look through frosted glass, this is exactly how cataracts sufferers see the world- which is certainly not helpful when trying to get into a good book or ace your golf game!

There is treatment available. Cataract surgery is a simple pain-free procedure, in which the cloudy lens is replaced with an artificial lens.

This procedure can be upgraded to what is known as Lens Replacement Surgery, which also involves the removal of the natural cloudy lens. However, a different lens is inserted, to fix additional impairments such as hyperopia (long-sightedness).

This may come as a surprise, but cataract surgery is in fact the most common procedure in the world; with approximately 330,000 performed each year in England alone.



Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. This is usually caused by the build-up of fluid in the front part of the eye, which in turn increases the pressure inside the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to complete sight loss.

Glaucoma can cause little to no symptoms in the early stages, which is why it’s so important to attend regular eye tests. Diabetics should be tested for glaucoma at least once a year; there are several treatment options for those with this eye condition.

It is thought that by 2035 a staggering one million people in the UK will have glaucoma. Contact an ophthalmologist if you haven’t had your eyes tested for over a year or if you think you may have undiagnosed glaucoma.

diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy

This particular eye condition is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina (a layer at the back of the eye that contains cells sensitive to light) and affects up to eight out of 10 diabetics, who have had diabetes for ten years or longer.

Like with every eye condition, regular eye checks are vital for early detection of diabetic retinopathy. Although in early stages there may be no symptoms, and as the condition progresses warning signs to look out for include: blurred vision, eye floaters, impaired colour vision and dark or empty areas in your vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is usually treated by laser therapy or freezing treatment (cryotherapy). Both treatments target specific parts of the retina to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms please talk to an eye health specialist immediately.

Don't ignore changes in your eyesight

If you are experiencing any visual impairments or eye pain you should contact an optometrist immediately. It’s vital to get your eyes tested every two years and every year for those with diabetes.

If you’ve ever considered corrective surgery for cataracts and would like to talk about your options, please contact Ultralase today for a no obligation chat:

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If you have any questions around the topic mentioned or would like to book a free consultation to check your suitability for lens replacement surgery.

Visit Ultralase


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