Diabetic signs in your eyes: Six eye symptoms that could indicate diabetes

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is becoming an increasingly common condition around the world and can be the cause of many other health issues. Often the condition can be the driver for eye issues. Diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain the six ways diabetes might impact your eyes and signs which indicate you may have the condition.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition which impacts a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroy the cells which produce insulin and Type 2 – where the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.

Type 2 is much more common than Type 1 with around 90 percent of diabetes sufferers having Type 2 in the UK.

People with diabetes should undertake regular visits to optometrists because high blood sugar can often lead to eye issues such as blurry vision and cataracts.

How does diabetes impact your eyes?

Blurry vision

Blurred vision can be a sign of diabetes.

Typically this happens because fluid may be leaking into the lens of your eye which then causes the lens to swell and change shape.

This makes it harder for the eyes to focus and therefore vision becomes fuzzy.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina).

The condition can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.

It usually takes several years for this condition to worsen to such a degree where your vision is put at real risk.

There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy starting with mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy and progressing to moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy then severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy and finally proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include blurry vision, eye floaters, difficulty seeing at night, loss of vision, distorted vision or colour changes in vision.

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People with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at a younger age than others.

The natural internal lens in your eye enables you to see and focus on items like a camera.

When the lens becomes cloudy, like a dirty or smudged window – this means a cataract has formed.

Other symptoms of cataracts include faded colours, clouded vision, blurry vision, double vision – usually in just one eye, sensitivity to light, glare or halos around lights or vision which does not improve with new glasses or a prescription which must be changed often.


Hyperglycemia is a condition which occurs from glucose building up in the blood when the body lacks enough insulin to process it.

Symptoms of the condition include blurred vision, headaches, fatigue or increased thirst and urination.


Glaucoma is a serious eye condition which is seen when pressure builds up inside the eye and fluid cannot drain as it should.

This pressure build-up can damage nerves and blood vessels and cause changes in vision.

If you have diabetes, your risk of glaucoma is double that of other adults according to the National Eye Institute.

Symptoms of glaucoma may include the loss of peripheral vision or tunnel vision, halos around light, reddening of your eyes, ocular pain, nausea or vomiting.

Macular oedema

Macular oedema is the build-up of fluid in the centre of the retina, which is known as the macula.

This part of the eye is responsible for providing vision with its sharp central focus.

The condition occurs when the macula swells due to leaking fluid and is evidence when symptoms such as wavy vision and colour changes occur.

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