Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness and vision loss. Because of the high risk for this eye disease, all people with diabetes aged 30 and older should receive an annual dilated eye exam. For people with diabetes younger than 30, an annual dilated exam is recommended after they have had diabetes for five years.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease may include:
- Diabetic retinopathy: damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
- Cataract: clouding of the eye’s lens.
- Glaucoma: increase in fluid pressure inside the eye that leads to optic nerve damage and loss of vision.
Diabetic retinopathy affects people with diabetes. The leading cause of blindness in American adults, it is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.
This diabetic eye disease weakens the small blood vessels in the retina. Retinal blood vessels can break down, leak, or become blocked – affecting and impairing vision over time. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, damage to the eye can occur when abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.