What is Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye conditions that can affect people with diabetes.

Diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma.

  • All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness.
  • Diabetic retinopathy involves changes to retinal blood vessels that can cause them to bleed or leak fluid, distorting vision.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and a leading cause of blindness among working-age adults.
  • DME is a consequence of diabetic retinopathy that causes swelling in the area of the retina called the macula.
  • Controlling diabetes—by taking medications as prescribed, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy diet—can prevent or delay vision loss.
  • Because diabetic retinopathy often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs, people with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
  • Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care of diabetic eye disease can protect against vision loss.
  • Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with several therapies, used alone or in combination.
  • NEI supports research to develop new therapies for diabetic retinopathy, and to compare the effectiveness of existing therapies for different patient groups.

Diabetic eyeDiabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue called the retina that lines the back of the eye. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.

Diabetic macular edema (DME). A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME is swelling in an area of the retina called the macula.
Diabetic eye disease can affect many parts of the eye, including the retina, macula, lens and the optic nerve

Diabetic eye disease also includes cataract and glaucoma

Cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. Adults with diabetes are 2-5 times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cataract. Cataract also tends to develop at an earlier age in people with diabetes.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve—the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the eye to the brain. Some types of glaucoma are associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. In adults, diabetes nearly doubles the risk of glaucoma.

All forms of diabetic eye disease have the potential to cause severe vision loss and blindness

 

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