How does Diabetes affect my eyes?

Diabetes and Eye Health – Eyesmart Website
What is Diabetic Retinopathy? Eyesmart Website
Diabetes Eye Check

Demographics for diabetic retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 28% of patients with diabetes over age 40.
Diabetic patients have a 60% increased risk of cataracts and 40% increased risk of glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy is higher in those with longer duration of diabetes and worse blood sugar control.
Diabetic retinopathy is more common in type 1 diabetes than type 2 diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, retinopathy is higher in those receiving insulin (15-20% with retinopathy) versus those not receiving insulin (5-10% with retinopathy).

Types of diabetic eye disease:

Diabetic retinopathy can be non-proliferative (NPDR) or proliferative (PDR).
Diabetic macular edema can occur in both NPDR or in PDR.
Diabetic macular edema (DME) accounts for the majority of vision loss in diabetic patients.
PDR can be associated with severe glaucoma that is difficult to treat.
Diabetic patients are at risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy (DR) as well as diabetic macular edema (DME).  Some medications (thiazolidinediones plus insulin) can increase your risk of DME.

National Recommendations for Diabetic eye exams:

Adult diabetic patients (type 2 diabetes) should be seen for an eye exam at the time of diagnosis and annually at minimum.
Urgent exams should be done for any blurred vision or double vision or areas of missing vision loss or new floaters.
Patients with type 1 diabetes should be seen within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis for an eye exam.

What can lower my risk of diabetic eye disease?

Better blood sugar control and lower HbA1c.
Better blood pressure control – this can reduce your risk of DR by upto 50%.
Better cholesterol control – trend towards lower DR with better control.

What supplements can help reduce my risk? 

Omega-3s and their anti-inflammatory effect (especially supplementary DHA at least 500 mg per day) can have a protective role in preventing retinopathy and the progression of retinopathy.  One study showed a 48% relative risk reduction in diabetic retinopathy.

Fill out the PRN form and have the PRN company call and educate you about proper nutrition and omega-3s to help you and prevent diabetic retinopathy or progression of your retinopathy.  Taking a quality omega-3 is cheaper in the long run with less risk of mercury toxicity, better absorption, the correct amount of nutrition and is classified as a medical food and it can potentially prevent vision loss.  What’s your vision worth to you?


Dietary Marine ω-3 Fatty Acids and Incident Sight Threatening Retinopathy in Middle-Aged and Older Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes. Prospective Investigation from the PREDIMED Trial.  2016 Oct 1;134(10):1142-1149. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2906.

How does my eye doctor evaluate my diabetes?

Checking the iris for diabetic damage and checking your eye pressure.
A dilated eye exam looking for diabetic changes to the blood vessels and retina, hemorrhages, cholesterol deposits, fluid in the retina as well as growth of new blood vessels. Fundus photography is useful to monitor changes in the retinopathy over multiple visits.
Sometimes, a fluorescein angiogram (IV dye) test to check the damage to the retina can be helpful.
OCT (optical coherence tomography) can be useful to look for fluid in the macula (the central part of the retina) and follow its response to treatment.