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4 Ways Diabetes Affects Your Eyes

More than 34 million Americans had diabetes in 2018, and 1.5 million are newly diagnosed every year. People with diabetes have problems producing enough insulin to properly break down blood sugar-also called blood glucose. 

Blood sugar primarily comes from the food we eat and is our body's main source of energy. When blood sugar does not get broken down, it builds up in our blood and can create various health problems. A common issue is eye disease. Among those ages 20 to 74, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness.  

At Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, our family physicians have years of experience helping people manage their diabetes so that they don't develop health problems such as heart disease, foot issues, kidney disease, and eye problems. Here, our medical team explains the four most common ways diabetes can affect your eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disease of people with diabetes. This condition currently affects 7.7 million Americans 40 and older and is projected to increase to more than 14.6 million people by 2030. The retina is a group of cells located in the back of your eye. Light enters the front of your eye and is sent to the retina, which then signals the brain through the optic nerve. If your blood sugar is high, it can damage the retina's small blood vessels and subsequently affect your vision. Your risk of diabetic retinopathy grows the longer you have had diabetes. 


Glaucoma damages the optic nerve and is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60. Glaucoma develops when the pressure in your eye builds up and damages the fibers of your optic nerve, which is integral to your eye health and vision. Diabetics have twice the chance of developing glaucoma as do people without diabetes. 


Cataracts are a clouding of the lens. They are common and develop slowly over time, with over 40% of the adult population developing one by age 75. High blood sugar can increase your chances of developing a cataract. In fact, people with diabetes are reported to be up to five times more likely to develop cataracts. Additionally, people with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at a younger age than those without diabetes. 

Macular edema

The macular is a central part of your retina. The macula is the part of your eye that helps you see fine detail and is integral to your ability to read. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to swelling of the macula, which, over time, can impair your ability to see fine details and colors. People who develop macular edema usually already have signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Managing your blood sugar can go a long way toward reducing your risk of developing many of these diabetes-related eye diseases. At Wasatch Peak Family Practice, our caring family practice physicians help you create a plan to manage your diabetes through a balanced diet, exercise routine, and, if necessary, insulin injections or pump.

If you have diabetes and need help managing your blood sugar and keeping diabetes-related health issues under control, call Wasatch Peak Family Practice for an appointment today. For your convenience, you can also make an appointment online through this website. 

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