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Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease facts

Patient Comments
  • Diabetes is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide, and, in the United States, it is the most common cause of blindness in people younger than 65 years of age.
  • Diabetic eye disease also encompasses a wide range of other eye problems, for example,
    • Diabetes may cause a reversible, temporary blurring of the vision, or it can cause a severe, permanent loss of vision.
    • Diabetes increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Some people may not even realize they have had diabetes for several years until they begin to experience problems with their eyes or vision.
  • Diabetes also may result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and circulatory abnormalities of the legs.
  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 8.1 million people additional people went undiagnosed. (This population is unaware that they have diabetes.)
  • In the United States 1.2 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed every year.
  • In the US in 2012, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes was 2.45 billion.
  • Eighty-six million people in the US have prediabetes, and 9 out of every 10 don't know they have it. Of the 86 million people with prediabetes, without lifestyle changes 15% to 30% of them will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
  • Lifestyle management has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prediabetes by at least two-thirds. It can also slow or halt the progression of prediabetes to diabetes.
  • People can try to avoid the problems associated with diabetes, including those that affect the eyes, by taking appropriate care of themselves by the following:
    • Maintain a normal level of weight
    • Watch your diet, especially limiting unhealthy types of fats and substituting complex carbohydrates for simple carbohydrates.
    • Participate in an exercise program. Try to exercise for least 30 minutes, five days a week or more. There are many ways to accomplish this without any expense. Go for a walk after lunch or dinner, ride bikes with the kids, plan an activity with a partner or friend, or rent an exercise DVD. Always check with your health-care professional before starting any exercise program.
    • Don't smoke or quit if you do.
  • If you or someone you know has already been diagnosed with diabetes, the following steps also should be taken:
    • Monitor blood sugars and glycosylated hemoglobin as recommended by your doctor.
    • Take diabetes medications as prescribed.
  • Severe diabetic eye disease most commonly develops in people who have had diabetes for many years, and who have had little or poor control of their blood sugars over that period of time.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2016

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Diabetic Eye Disease:

Diabetic Eye Disease - Symptoms

What symptoms have you experienced due to diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic Eye Disease - Experience

Please share your experience with diabetes and eye disease.

Diabetic Eye Disease - Medical Treatment

What medical treatments have been effective in managing your diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic Eye Disease - Causes and Types

If known, what was the cause of your case of eye disease associated with diabetes, and what problems have you experienced?

Symptoms and Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetic eye disease is a complication of diabetes

The signs and symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be similar. Symptoms and signs of poorly controlled diabetes (or undiagnosed diabetes) can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Kidney, or urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Other symptoms, while characteristic of the complications that arise from long-term untreated or poorly-treated diabetes include

  • erectile dysfunction,
  • blurred vision,
  • numbness,
  • tingling, or pain in the extremities.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Macular Edema, Diabetic »

Over the last several decades, there have been a few large-scale trials that have influenced the management of diabetic complications in the eye.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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