What Increases the Risk of Developing Diabetic Eye Disease?

Diabetic eye disease is a severe complication of diabetes that develops over time. Also called diabetic retinopathy, diabetic eye disease is a condition that affects the blood vessels of the retina. The condition can lead to blindness, which may be permanent or temporary. Your Jenkintown ophthalmologist & eye surgeon can treat this eye condition with insulin.

Many factors increase the risk of developing diabetic eye disease. Here are a few of them:


As we age, our bodies do not respond as well to insulin and many other hormones that help control blood sugar levels throughout the day. It means that people aged 65 and over are at greater risk of developing diabetic eye disease than younger patients.

Family history of diabetes

If a parent or sibling has diabetes, there is an increased risk of developing it in yourself. However, the type of diabetes that develops depends on how much insulin they had before they were diagnosed with diabetes and how quickly they could control their blood sugar levels after diagnosis.

Exposure to environmental toxins

Certain toxic chemicals can damage the retina and other parts of the eye, making it more vulnerable to developing diabetic eye disease. For example, chlorine and chlorinated organics can cause damage to blood vessels in your eyes by damaging their walls or causing leaky membranes that allow fluid inside them. That increases your retina and optic nerve pressure and causes long-term damage if left untreated. Lead exposure can cause nerve damage over time, leading to vision loss. Again, exposure to radiation from both natural sources (sunlight) and artificial sources (radiation from X-rays) can also lead to diabetic eye disease.

High triglycerides

High triglycerides may increase your risk of diabetic eye disease by increasing the amount of plaque in your arteries, thereby increasing the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and nephropathy later on.

High blood pressure (hypertension)

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic eye disease. It causes blindness among individuals with diabetes.

High blood pressure is often caused by poor blood sugar management, so it is essential to control your blood sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure but don’t have diabetes, losing weight and keeping your waistline trim can help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health.

Retina diseases

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic eye disease that occurs when tiny blood vessels in the retina break down over time. The breakdown of the blood vessels can cause vision loss, scarring, and even blindness if it is not treated early on by your doctor. Diabetic macular edema, which affects the back of your eye and leads to blurry vision, is another type of retinal disorder that may develop with diabetes.

Kidney disease or heart problems

Kidney disease can cause vitamin B12 and folic acid to be lost from the body, leading to megaloblastic anemia and nerve damage in the eyes. Heart failure can also cause a rise in blood pressure, which is often accompanied by vision loss.

You should see an optometrist at the first sign of diabetic eye disease. If you do not, your vision could be severely damaged in a short time. If you are at risk for diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, or if you have diabetes and are over 60 years old, you must see one of our doctors as soon as possible. Contact Suburban Eye Associates to book an appointment with an optometrist to talk to a physician about diabetic eye disease.