How High Blood Sugar Affects Your Eyes

Many people know high blood sugar is bad for your kidneys and overall health. But many people don’t know that elevated glucose levels can damage your eyes, too. 

In fact, people with diabetes have a significantly higher risk of vision problems, along with several distinct eye diseases known collectively as “diabetic eye disease.”

At Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts, in Bellmore, Great Neck, and Huntington, New York, our team helps patients understand the risks of eye disease and take steps to maintain their healthy vision. Here, learn how elevated glucose levels affect your eyes and what you can do to prevent problems.

High blood sugar and your eyes

Glucose (or blood sugar) plays an important role in providing your organs and tissue with a ready energy source. But if your glucose levels are too high, the extra glucose can damage your blood vessels and nerve cells, leading to problems with your vision.

Initially, high glucose levels cause swelling in the eye’s lens, distorting your vision and causing blurriness that clears up when glucose levels return to normal. But when blood sugar remains elevated, vision changes can become permanent.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy happens when elevated glucose levels damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina. These tiny vessels burst and leak, sometimes triggering the growth of a mesh of new, weak vessels that block vision. Eventually, the condition leads to permanent loss of vision.


Glaucoma includes a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, the nerve responsible for sending vision information to your brain. 

Most people with glaucoma have elevated pressure inside the eye, but you can develop glaucoma even when pressures are normal. If you have diabetes, your risk of developing glaucoma increases significantly.

Macular edema

Macular edema involves swelling in the central part of your retina — the part responsible for clear central vision. Elevated glucose levels cause tiny blood vessels in this part of the retina to leak fluids, leading to swelling and permanent vision loss.


High glucose levels also increase your risk of developing cataracts and your risk of developing cataracts at a younger age. Cataracts happen when the eye’s clear lens becomes cloudy, blocking light and causing dim, blurry vision. Our team corrects cataracts using state-of-the-art cataract surgery.

The importance of regular eye exams

Our team offers diabetic eye exams to help people with diabetes or prediabetes monitor eye and vision changes. Our goal During the exam is to spot changes as early as possible while providing key lifestyle guidance and therapies to prevent permanent vision loss.

Whether you have diabetes or not, having regular comprehensive eye exams is one of the most important things you can do to protect your eyes and vision. If you’re overdue for your eye exam, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts today.

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