Diabetes Eye Complications

Cataracts and Glaucoma

Cataracts and glaucoma also are more common in people with diabetes. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision. Cataract formation associated with diabetes often occurs because of excess levels of sorbitol (a sugar formed from glucose), which form deposits within the lens. If a cataract begins to interfere with your vision, you may need surgery to remove the affected lens and replace it with a lens implant.

In glaucoma, abnormally high pressure within the eyeball damages the optic nerve, which carries visual information from the retina to the brain. Your ophthalmologist can easily measure the pressure in your eye (called intraocular pressure) during a routine eye exam.

It's important to have your eye pressure tested regularly, since irreversible eye damage from glaucoma may occur before any symptoms appear. Treatment with medicated eyedrops often helps to reduce the intraocular pressure, but some people also need laser treatment to prevent severe loss of vision.

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 21 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2015