Sunday, June 12, 2016

Living With Type 1 Diabetes: Complications to the Eye

Type 1 diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye, this is known as diabetic retinopathy.2 Retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness. Type 1 diabetics are also at higher risk for other eye complications. Some of these eye complications are cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the retina over time. This occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye leak blood and other fluids, creating swelling in the retinal tissue. This is what causes cloudy or blurred vision.1 Diabetics should always be cautious of the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. These symptoms include:
  • Seeing spots or floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
  • Difficult seeing at night
If a diabetic experiences any of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment with an eye doctor immediately.
Type 1 diabetics who experience high blood glucose levels over long periods of time can experience fluid buildup in the lens of the eye, this affects focusing. This is what leads to blurred vision. If the diabetic can gain better control of their diabetes and get blood glucose levels in normal range (80-120), blurred vision will decrease. Having control of diabetes also slows the onset of diabetic retinopathy.

There are two different types of diabetic retinopathy. Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the early stage of the disease, and symptoms are mild or nonexistent. Blood vessels in the retina are weakened, and can cause tiny bulges in blood vessels to leak into the retina.1 Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the other type of diabetic retinopathy. At this more advanced stage, circulation problems deprive the retina of oxygen. This can cause growth of new fragile blood vessels which can also leak and cause cloudy vision.1

Type 1 diabetics are supposed to have a yearly eye appointment to check for diabetic retinopathy. At any time that they show symptoms though, they should go get it looked at by their doctor. Next week we will look at how diabetes affects the kidneys.


1American Optometric Association. (n.d.). Diabetic Retinopathy. Retrieved June 06, 2016, from
2Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2014, August 02). Type 1 diabetes. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from

No comments:

Post a Comment