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Cataracts and diabetes

BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you have diabetes, the level of sugar in your blood is high. This can cause problems with your eyes, including cataracts.

Here are some things you should know about cataracts if you have diabetes.

  • You are more likely to get cataracts related to ageing, but at a younger age than people who don't have diabetes. Under the age of 60, people who have diabetes are three to four times more likely to have cataracts than people who don't have diabetes. [5]

  • Cataracts in people with diabetes are likely to get worse more quickly than in people who don't have diabetes.

  • You're also more likely to get a type of cataract caused by an upset in the balance of fluids in your eye. This is called diabetic cataract. Diabetic cataracts look like white snowflakes under a microscope. [6]

  • You may be more likely to get cataracts if you need to take a drug called insulin. This drug helps control how much sugar is in your blood. But if you keep good control of your sugar level, you can lower your chances of getting cataracts. [7] [8]

  • An operation to take out your cataracts may be harder to do if you have certain conditions that can happen with diabetes. [9] One condition is leaky blood vessels in the back of your eye (doctors call this diabetic retinopathy). Another problem is swelling in the back of your eye (doctors call this macular oedema).

You are more likely to have problems after surgery to take out your cataracts and to need extra treatment. You also might recover more slowly than someone who doesn't have diabetes.

You may not see as well after the surgery as someone who doesn't have diabetes. But the new ways of doing cataract operations are increasing your chances of seeing well after surgery even if you have diabetes. [9]



Diabetes is a condition that causes too much sugar (glucose) to circulate in the blood. It happens when the body stops making a hormone called insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when insulin stops working (type 2 diabetes).


Insulin is a hormone that helps your body use glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar that gives you energy. Insulin keeps the levels of glucose in your body steady. Insulin also helps glucose to be carried in your blood, so that the glucose can get into your cells. People who have diabetes do not have enough insulin or do not react to insulin strongly enough. This means they can get too much glucose in their blood.

For more terms related to Cataracts


For references related to Cataracts click here.
Last Updated: October 04, 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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