Diabetes Forecast

Signs of Eye Damage

By Allison Tsai ,

Often diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms, which is why regular screenings are so important for early detection and treatment before vision loss occurs. If you have noticed a change in vision, don’t wait until your next appointment, says Raj Maturi, MD, associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at Indiana University School of Medicine and partner at the Midwest Eye Institute in Indianapolis. Get in to see your ophthalmologist right away.

The signs of diabetic macular edema include:

  • Cloudy central vision—such as when trying to read or tell time
  • Straight lines appear to have a bend
  • Trouble seeing at night
  • Inability to make out expressions on people’s faces

Edema may affect only one eye at first, and you won’t necessarily notice right away: Your brain may ignore the blurry vision in one eye and just pay attention to the good parts of the vision in both eyes. “Unless you cover the good eye, you might not notice the blurry vision developing,” says Neil Bressler, MD, professor of ophthalmology and chief of the Retina Division at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is associated with retinal detachment and bleeding into the middle cavity of the eye, which can lead to major problems.

The signs of proliferative retinopathy include:

  • A sudden shower of black floaters in your vision, which is blood falling into the middle of the eye.
  • Loss of vision starting from the side—think of it as “a dark curtain that comes from the side and starts to encroach onto the center vision as the retina detaches from the side towards the center,” says Bressler. This can appear slowly or suddenly.


Learn more about diabetes-related eye disease.

6 Steps to Eye Protection



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