Man wondering, How can diabetes affect your eyes?

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes? Understanding How to Protect Your Vision

Discreet, On-The-Go, All-In-One Glucose Checks

When you’re living with diabetes, you may not automatically think about how diabetes can affect your eyes. But in the United States, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults, and millions of people living with diabetes experience some form of diabetes-related vision change. So, exactly how can diabetes affect your eyes? The answer is complex, but understanding the relationship between diabetes and eye health can help you protect your vision. 

How Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes? 

Healthy eye function depends on healthy blood sugar levels. High or low blood sugar levels can cause the lens of your eye to swell, blurring your vision. If your blood sugar is not brought back into your target range, that blurriness can persist and worsen over time. Luckily, your vision will usually return to normal once your blood sugar is back to a healthy level. However, some diabetes-related vision changes are more serious.

Your vision relies on delicate structures, and sustained high blood sugar levels can lead to the development of certain eye diseases. It’s important to know the signs and talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following in addition to high blood sugar levels:

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common and serious effect of poorly controlled diabetes. 

Over time, high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina. In the early stages of DR, you may not experience any symptoms. But as the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe and may include the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Eye floaters
  • Visual distortions (e.g., seeing wavy lines)
  • Changes in color vision
  • Vision loss

What you can do: Once vision changes occur, they typically aren’t reversible. However, treatment can prevent further damage, so early detection is critical. Annual retinal exams are often recommended to catch DR-related changes as soon as possible. 

Macular Edema

Macular edema (ME) is a complication of diabetic retinopathy that occurs when leaky blood vessels cause the macula to swell.

The symptoms of ME include the following: 

  • Blurry or wavy vision
  • Color vision changes (seeing washed-out or faded colors)

Symptoms often come on slowly and may go unnoticed until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. This is particularly true if only one eye is affected.

What you can do: There is no cure for ME, but a variety of treatments are available to slow or reverse progression. If you are experiencing symptoms of ME, your doctor can help you explore your options. 


Glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve (the bundle of nerves that sends signals from the retina to the brain), usually due to high pressure in the eye. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as people without diabetes. 

The symptoms of glaucoma include the following:

  • Blurry or hazy vision
  • Eye pain
  • Headaches
  • Halos around lights (especially at night)
  • Poor peripheral vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Red eyes

What you can do: Glaucoma-related vision loss is irreversible, but treatment can help preserve the vision you have. Depending on the severity of your glaucoma, treatment may include eye drops, oral medications, surgery, or laser therapy.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. People living with diabetes are two to five times more likely to develop cataracts and more likely to experience cataracts at a younger age. Diabetes can also accelerate disease progression.

Symptoms of cataracts include the following:

  • Blurry or clouded vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Poor night vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Double vision
  • Changes in color vision

What you can do: To treat cataracts, the clouded lens is surgically removed and replaced with a clear, artificial lens. Unlike treatment for most other diabetes-related vision changes, surgical cataract treatment can often fully restore vision.

How to Prevent Eye Damage

How can diabetes affect your eyes? is a valuable question to ask. How can I prevent eye damage? is just as important. 

While diabetic eye conditions can’t always be prevented, there are ways to support eye health, including the following: 

  • Get dilated eye exams at least once a year or as recommended by your healthcare provider
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels and take action if your levels fall out of your target range
  • Stay on track with your diabetes treatment plan, including taking any medications as prescribed
  • Eat a healthy diet 
  • Stay active and exercise regularly
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about any changes in your vision

Having diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you will experience vision problems, but taking steps to protect your eyes is always a good idea.

Stay on Target With POGO Automatic©

Keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range can go a long way toward protecting eye health. With the POGO Automatic Monitor, checking your blood sugar is simple. You just press a button, and POGO Automatic does the lancing and blood collection for you. Because the lancet and test strips are contained within a 10-test cartridge, you can check your blood sugar quickly and discreetly no matter where you are. Your results can be automatically uploaded to the free Patterns® for POGO Automatic app to help you and your healthcare provider track trends and assess how your treatment plan is working.

Your vision is precious. If you’re concerned about how diabetes can affect your eyes, making routine blood glucose self-monitoring as easy as possible can help you protect your vision. 

Ready to Have Freedom at Your Fingertip?

POGO Automatic is the only FDA-cleared blood glucose monitor that lances and collects blood automatically, in one simple step, with its 10-test cartridge technology, eliminating the need to carry separate lancets and test strips. Reach out today to learn more about how you can check your blood glucose without interrupting your day.

 Jaclyn Owens, product director specializing in diabetes management tools

Jaclyn Owens

Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.

All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.