Blurred vision

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are associated with both short-term and long-term effects on our eyes. Blurred vision is one of the most common symptoms of poorly controlled blood glucose and can affect a person at any stage of diabetes. Blurred vision results from a major change in plasma glucose level, which creates a change in osmotic pressure within the eyeball.1,2

Blurred vision typically occurs after an abrupt change in blood glucose resulting in a change in osmotic pressure within the eye. Blurring of vision may worsen initially even after you have taken steps to control your blood glucose, because a rapid correction in blood glucose will cause a further change in osmotic pressure within the eye. If you experience this symptom, work with your doctor to correct your blood glucose. Be patient and do not change vision correction prescriptions. Your vision may remain blurred for a short period of time until the pressure within your eye has normalized.2

Does blurred vision mean that I am losing my eyesight?

Vision problems are one of the most frightening complications of diabetes. However, the early symptom of blurred vision due to uncontrolled high blood glucose usually does not mean that you are losing your eyesight. What blurred vision does mean is that your blood glucose is not controlled and that you need to take steps to prevent serious vision complications from occurring.

Learn more about diabetes-related vision problems, including blurred vision.

What should I do if I experience blurred vision?

If you experience blurred vision and you have not been diagnosed with diabetes, you should see your doctor and discuss your symptoms. Your doctor will evaluate you and identify the cause of the symptom. As part of this evaluation, your doctor will measure your blood glucose to determine if it is high and whether you may have diabetes. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, blurred vision is a sign that your blood glucose is out of control. Your doctor will work with you to help you control your blood glucose, using lifestyle modifications, including a healthy, calorie-appropriate eating plan, regular physical activity, and weight loss, and, if these modifications are not enough, medication.

How can I protect my vision if I have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, your care team should include an ophthalmologist who is skilled in providing eye care for people with diabetes. Your primary doctor will be able to recommend an eye specialist who has experience in this area. You should make a point of having your eyes checked at least once a year, regardless of whether or not your vision has changed. The key to diabetic eye care is catching complications early. For some of the worst diabetic vision problems, if the complication is caught in the early stages, treatment can be very effective. For instance, more than 95% of severe vision loss due to retinopathy and more than 50% of moderate vision loss due to macular edema can be prevented using laser surgery techniques.1

Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: May 2014.
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