Diabetic Eye Disease: Cataracts and Glaucoma

Written by Neyal J. Ammary-Risch, MPH, MCHES
Reviewed by Suber S. Huang, MD, MBA

What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. People with diabetes develop cataract at an earlier age than people without diabetes.

The most common symptoms of a cataract are:

If you have early cataract symptoms, your vision may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If these measures do not help, surgery is the only effective treatment. This involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens.

What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness. If you have diabetes, you are twice as likely to get glaucoma as other adults. However, with early detection and treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

The most common form of the disease is called open-angle glaucoma. At first, this condition has no symptoms and causes no pain. Your vision stays normal. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is necessary to detect it. Vision lost from the disease cannot be stored. But treatment—including medicines, laser surgery, conventional surgery, or a combination of these—may save remaining vision.

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Diabetic Eye Disease: Eye Care