Eye Care

There are steps you can take to avoid eye problems.

First and most important, keep your blood sugar levels under tight control.  In the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, people on standard diabetes treatment got retinopathy four times as often as people who kept their blood sugar levels close to normal. In people who already had retinopathy, the condition progressed in the tight-control group only half as often. 

These impressive results show that you have a lot of control over what happens to your eyes.  Also, high blood sugar levels may make your vision temporarily blurry.

Second, bring high blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can make eye problems worse.

Third, quit smoking.

Fourth, see your eye care professional at least once a year for a dilated eye exam.  Having your regular doctor look at your eyes is not enough. Nor is having your eyeglass prescription tested by an optician. Only optometrists and ophthalmologists can detect the signs of retinopathy. Only ophthalmologists can treat retinopathy.

Fifth, see your eye care professional if:

  • your vision becomes blurry
  • you have trouble reading signs or books
  • you see double
  • one or both of your eyes hurt
  • your eyes get red and stay that way
  • you feel pressure in your eye
  • you see spots or floaters
  • straight lines do not look straight
  • you can't see things at the side as you used to.

When to See an Eye Care Professional

  • If you are between 10 and 29 years old and have had diabetes for at least 5 years, you should have an annual dilated eye exam.
  • If you are 30 or older, you should have an annual dilated eye exam, no matter how short a time you have had diabetes. More frequent exams may be needed if you have eye disease.
  • If you have any changes in your vision.
  • You should have a dilated eye exam if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. 
  • Last Reviewed: October 9, 2013
  • Last Edited: April 7, 2014

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Diabetes Forecast