Symptoms of Diabetic Eye Disease

Do I have Diabetic Eye Disease?

Often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, nor is there any pain. But if you have diabetes, don't wait for symptoms; be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.

As the disease progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:

  • Spots, dots or cobweb-like dark strings floating in your vision, called floaters
  • Blurred vision, often caused by macular edema
  • Vision that changes periodically from blurry to clear
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Colors appear washed out or different than usual
  • Vision loss

Diabetes can cause changes in the vision of both eyes, even if you do not have retinopathy. Rapid changes in your blood sugar change the shape of your eye's lens, causing the image on the retina to become out of focus. After your blood sugar stabilizes, the image will return to focus. You can reduce episodes of blurred vision by maintaining good control of your blood sugar.

What are the symptoms in the advanced stage of Diabetic Retinopathy (Proliferative Retinopathy)?

The new blood vessels on the surface of the retina, which characterize proliferative retinopathy, can bleed into the eye and block vision. At first, you will see a few specks of blood, or spots, "floating" in your vision. If you see spots, contact your eye care professional as soon as possible. You may need treatment before more serious bleeding occurs. These hemorrhages tend to happen more than once, often during sleep.

Sometimes, without treatment, the spots clear, and you will see better. However, bleeding can recur and cause severely blurred vision. You need to be examined by your eye care professional at the first sign of blurred vision, before more bleeding occurs.

Photo Credit:
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health