Diabetic Eye Disease

elderly couple enjoying their day cooking together

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can affect all areas of your health, including your eyesight. Among adults with diagnosed diabetes, 18% experience permanent vision loss due to one or more disease-related complications. And as you grow older, your risk of vision problems related to diabetes significantly increases.

Working with both your endocrinologist and your eye specialist to manage your diabetes and its symptoms is the best way to protect your eyesight from damage. At Envision Ophthalmology & Wellness, Dr. E. Shanika Esparaz is double board-certified in ophthalmology and lifestyle medicine to provide a comprehensive approach to care you won’t find anywhere else. In addition to traditional treatment for diabetic eye disease, she’ll work with you on a whole-body wellness plan to help keep your diabetes in check.

Types of Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease is a group of conditions that can lead to severe eye problems. Those living with diabetes may suffer from one or more of the following:

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina swell, leak fluid, or weaken. In some cases, they can close off, causing new vessels to grow on the surface of the retina. Eventually, scar tissue can force the retina to detach from the eye. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include floaters, blurred vision, and vision loss. Dr. Esparaz may use retinal injections or laser therapy to treat diabetic retinopathy depending on the stage of the condition.

Diabetic Macular Edema

Diabetes can cause fluid to build up on the macula of the retina, leading to swelling, blurry vision, and partial vision loss. When the macula is damaged, it can be challenging to perform daily activities like reading and driving. Diabetic macular edema (DMA) is most often treated with in-office anti-inflammatory and anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections to reduce leakage from damaged blood vessels and promote the growth of new ones. In more severe cases, laser therapy and surgery may be needed.


When you grow older, the lenses of your eyes become thicker and less flexible. High blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can cause structural damage to one or both lenses, accelerating the development of cataracts that blur and dull your vision. Dr. Esparaz is a fellowship-trained cataract surgeon who can successfully remove your cloudy, damaged lens and replace it with a clear, artificial lens.


Diabetes doubles your chances of having glaucoma, a condition in which your optic nerve is damaged when fluid builds up and increases pressure inside the eye. When the nerve is compromised, it has difficulties sending images to your brain, resulting in vision loss. Patients suffering from glaucoma may experience eye pain and pressure, blurred vision, blind spots, and headaches. Prescription eye drops to reduce pressure in the eye is the first line of treatment for glaucoma, but in more severe cases, laser therapy or surgery can provide better results.

elderly man placing eye drops in his eyes

Schedule Your Consultation

Dr. Esparaz is currently accepting new retinal patients at Envision Ophthalmology & Wellness. To learn more about our direct patient care practice and how you can become an Envision member, contact us today.

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