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Diabetes health centre

Eye problems in diabetes

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Diabetes can cause damage to the delicate blood vessels in the backs of your eyes. Doctors call this problem retinopathy. About 20 in 100 people with type 2 diabetes have this eye problem when their diabetes is diagnosed. That's probably because they have already had diabetes for many years.

retinopathy-and-normal1_default.jpgAn eye doctor can look at the back of each eye to see if you have any problems. If you get blurred vision or other problems with your sight, tell your doctor straight away.

If your retinopathy isn't treated, you might go blind. If you have diabetes, you're 25 times more likely to go blind than someone who doesn't have diabetes. [12]

The good news is that if your eye problems are picked up early and treated with laser therapy, you're unlikely to go blind. [29]

To reduce your chances of losing your sight:

  • Have your eyes examined every year if you've got type 2 diabetes

  • If you're a woman planning to have a baby, have an eye exam before getting pregnant

  • Stop smoking

  • Keep your blood glucose (sugar) level and your blood pressure as close to normal as possible

  • Tell your doctor straight away if you have any problems with your sight. You might see dark spots, flashing lights or rings around lights. These can be signs that you have retinopathy.


blood pressure

Blood pressure is the amount of force that's exerted by your blood on to your blood vessels. You can think of it like the water pressure in your home: the more pressure you have, the faster and more forcefully the water flows out of the shower. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (written as mm Hg). When your blood pressure is taken, the measurement is given as two numbers, for example 120/80 mm Hg. The first, higher, number is called the systolic pressure, and the second, lower, number is the diastolic pressure. The systolic number is the highest pressure that occurs while your heart is pushing blood into your arteries. The diastolic number is the lowest pressure that happens when your heart is relaxing and is not pushing your blood.

laser therapy

Laser therapy is when surgeons use a laser to perform certain operations. For example, diabetes can make people grow new blood vessels in their eyes, which can affect their sight. Laser surgery can be used to remove these blood vessels.

For more terms related to Diabetes, type 2


For references related to Diabetes, type 2 click here.
Last Updated: October 30, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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