Diabetes and Visual Health

Treatments of vision impairments

The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic eye diseases. People with retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95 percent with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care. If left untreated blindness can result.

In the early stages of diabetic eye disease, regular monitoring by an eye care professional may be all the treatment that is required. Treatment for diabetic eye disease depends on the specific condition and stage of the disease. Treatment is directed at trying to slow, or stop, the progression of the disease and save vision.

  • Laser surgery to seal leaking blood vessels or to discourage new leaky blood vessels from forming.
  • Injections of medications into the eye to decrease inflammation or stop the formation of new blood vessels.
  • In more advanced cases, a surgical procedure to remove and replace the vitreous gel-like fluid in the back of the eye may be needed.
  • A retinal detachment, defined as a separation of the light-receiving lining in the back of the eye, may also require surgical repair.

What can be done if you have already lost some vision from diabetic retinopathy?

In spite of efforts to take care of your eye sight it is still possible to suffer significant vision loss or, even, blindness. If you have lost some sight from diabetic retinopathy, ask your eye care professional for a referral to a specialist in low vision.

There are many adaptive devices that may help you make the most of your remaining vision, including: telescopic and microscopic lenses, hand and stand magnifiers and video magnification systems that can be prescribed to make the most of remaining vision.

If you completely lose your vision there are additional adaptive devices available to individuals, including: talking computers, watches, audio books, Braille books, etc. to assist you retain your independence.

Many community organizations and agencies offer low vision counseling, training and other special services for people with visual impairments. A nearby school of medicine or optometry may also provide low vision services.

Resources for People with Vision Loss

Lighthouse International


Other resources


Foundation of American Academy of Ophthalmology

American Optometric Association

Prevent Blindness

National Eye Institute

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