The impact of diabetes on vision

Diabetes, a chronic condition, impacts sugar processing in the body. It arises from insufficient insulin production or usage, leading to high blood sugar.

The impact of diabetes on vision in Olympia

Diabetic retinopathy

One of the most common ways that diabetes can affect your eyesight is through a condition called diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye. The damaged blood vessels may leak fluid or blood, leading to vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among people with diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may not appear until the condition is advanced, so it's important for people with diabetes to have regular eye exams. During an eye exam, our optometrist will dilate your pupils and examine the inside of your eye to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Our optometrist will also use advanced technology to take high definition images of the eye which will enable earlier detection of diabetic retinopathy.  If caught early, diabetic retinopathy can often be treated and managed to help prevent further vision loss.

Cataracts and Diabetes

Cataracts are another eye condition that can affect people with diabetes. Cataracts are cloudy areas that form in the lens of the eye, leading to vision loss. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and at a faster rate than those without the disease.

The treatment for cataracts is a surgery that removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial lens. Symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty seeing at night. People with diabetes should be aware of their increased risk of developing cataracts and have regular eye exams to catch and treat the condition early.

Glaucoma and Diabetes

Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss.

Symptoms of glaucoma include eye pain, blurred vision, and halos around lights. Our optometrist can detect glaucoma during an eye exam by measuring eye pressure and examining the optic nerve. Treatment for glaucoma may include eye drops, oral medication, laser surgery, or a combination of these treatments. People with diabetes should be aware of their risk of developing glaucoma and have regular eye exams to detect and treat the condition early.

Dry Eye and Diabetes

Dry eye syndrome is a condition in which the eyes don't produce enough tears or retain those tears to keep the surface of the eye moist. People with diabetes are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome. Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include eye irritation, redness, dryness in the eye, a gritty feeling like sand in the eye, and vision problems.

Treatment for dry eye syndrome may include artificial tears, prescription eye drops, clearing of clogged oil glands, specialty contact lenses, or blocking tear ducts to conserve tears. To prevent dry eye syndrome, people with diabetes should maintain good blood sugar control, use a humidifier in dry environments, and avoid smoking. Regular eye exams can also help detect and treat dry eye syndrome early.

Take our dry eye assessment to see if your symptoms indicate that you are suffering from treatable dry eye disease.

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What can you do to keep your eyes healthy if you have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, it's important to see our optometrist regularly for eye exams and to follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for managing the disease. This can help prevent or delay the onset of vision problems caused by diabetes. Some tips for maintaining good eye health if you have diabetes include:

Manage your blood sugar levels: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in your eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy and other vision issues. It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range to minimize the risk of eye problems.

Control your blood pressure and cholesterol levels: High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also damage your eyes. Make sure to manage these conditions through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Maintain a healthy diet: A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help prevent eye problems. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds can be particularly beneficial for eye health.

Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help control blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, all of which can contribute to good eye health.

Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy and other vision issues. Quitting smoking can reduce this risk and improve overall health.

Get regular eye exams: People with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year to detect and treat any vision issues early.

Keep your tear film in great condition: Dry eyes are common in people with diabetes, so it is essential to keep your tear film and ocular surface healthy. Schedule a dry eye evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms so that you can ensure healthy and comfortable vision.

Protect your eyes from the sun: Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection when outdoors to protect your eyes from harmful sun rays.

Common Questions

If you have diabetes, it's important to have an eye exam at least once a year, or more often if recommended by our optometrist or healthcare provider. If you have diabetes and are experiencing vision problems, call us to schedule an evaluation today at (360) 491-2121. We are proud to be a leading provider of diabetic eye exams conveniently located in Olympia.
If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, including vision loss and blindness. However, early diagnosis and proper treatment can help prevent or delay the onset of these complications. If you have diabetes and are experiencing vision problems, call us to schedule an evaluation today at (360) 491-2121. We are proud to be a leading provider of diabetic eye exams for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the disease is a leading cause of blindness and vision loss. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes, or about 9.4% of the population.
Diabetes-related blurred vision can often be corrected, especially if it is caught early. Treating the underlying diabetes through diet, exercise, and medication can help improve blood sugar control, which can in turn improve vision. Additionally, treating any specific eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, or cataracts, can also help correct blurred vision. It is important to see our eye doctor regularly if you have diabetes to catch and treat any vision issues early.
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes, and diabetic retinopathy in Olympia

It is crucial for patients with diabetes to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. During the exam, our optometrist will dilate your pupils to get a clearer view of the inside of your eye and check for signs of diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. The exam will also include checks for glaucoma and cataracts, which are more common in people with diabetes. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam, please call our office at (360) 491-2121. Our clinic is a top provider of medical eye care for diabetic patients in Washington, and we are proud to serve patients from all over the area, including Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey. We are committed to helping our patients proactively prevent complications from diabetes through regular eye exams and high-quality care.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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