Diabetic Eye Disease
Several parts of the eye are affected by diabetic eye disease, including the retina, macula, lens and the optic nerve. The following eye conditions can affect people with diabetes.
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Diabetic macular edema (DME)
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina and usually affects both eyes. The blood vessels can bleed or leak fluid which can distort vision. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in American adults and is the most common diabetic eye disease.
Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)
The most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetic retinopathy is DME. It causes swelling in an area of the retinal called the macula. The macula is important for vision that is used for driving, reading, and recognizing faces. Of all people with diabetic retinopathy, about half will develop DME.
Clouding of the eye’s lens is a cataract. A person with diabetes is more likely to develop a cataract at an earlier age than someone who is not a diabetic. Adults without diabetes are 2-5 times less likely to develop a cataract than those with diabetes.
Diabetic eye disease also includes glaucoma. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that is damaged by glaucoma. Elevated pressure in the eye is associated with glaucoma. Diabetes almost doubles the risk of glaucoma.