Diabetes affects 23.6 million people in the United States and close to three million people in Canada. While diabetes can be accompanied by many different symptoms, some people are surprised to learn that diabetes can affect the eyes and vision.
Changes in vision are sometimes the earliest warning signs of the presence of diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetic eye disease is its own stand-alone condition, and the National Eye Institute points out that diabetic eye disease comprises a group of eye conditions that affect people with diabetes. These may include retinopathy, macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma. All forms of eye disease can potentially cause severe vision loss or blindness.
Those with diabetes also can experience xanthelasma, or yellowish collections of cholesterol around the eye area. What’s more, diabetes can put individuals at risk of developing conjunctival bacterial infections (pink eye), as well as corneal erosions, corneal defects and subsequent dry eyes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a 40 percent greater risk of suffering from glaucoma than people without diabetes.