Last Updated: March 29, 2023
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing a vision threatening condition called diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when the blood sugar level is too high as a result of diabetes. This can cause damage to the small blood vessels at the back of the eye. These blood vessels can leak causing swelling, new anormal blood vessel growth, and other changes to disrupt vision. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss
Initially, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. A less controlled blood sugar level and longer duration of being diabetic leads to increased risks for developing diabetic retinopathy. Left unmonitored and untreated, irreversible vision loss may result.
An individual with diabetic retinopathy may experience the following symptoms:
● Blurry vision
● Black spots or holes in the field of vision
● Flashes of light in the field of vision
● Floaters in the field of vision
● Loss of vision
As many as one million Canadians are estimated to be living with undiagnosed diabetes. A comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist can lead to early detection of diabetes, reduce the risk of vision loss, and minimize the risk of other life threatening complications of diabetes such as heart disease and kidney failure. To learn more about the impact that diabetes may have on your eyes, book an eye exam with your optometrist.
- Mohamed Q et al. Management of diabetic retinopathy: a systematic review. Jama. 2007;298(8):902-916.
- Canadian Diabetes Association. (2020). Diabetes in Canada. Retrieved from Diabetes Canada: https://www.diabetes.ca/DiabetesCanadaWebsite/media/Advocacy-and-Policy/Backgrounder/2020_Backgrounder_Canada_English_FINAL.pdf
- World Health Organization. (2016). Global Report on Diabetes. Retrieved from World Health Organization: http://docs.dpaq.de/10605-diabetes_who_embargoed-who-global-report-on-diabetes.pdf