The Doctor's Doctor - Dr. Mandel

Having Diabetes May Make You More Likely to Develop Cataracts Earlier

Systemic diseases, including diabetes, are linked to many other conditions and affect many body areas. Diabetes, cataracts and other eye conditions are closely related as your overall health affects ocular wellness. San Jose cataract surgeon and cornea specialist Mark Mandel, MD, explains how diabetes and cataracts are connected.

Several bodies of research show a higher rate of cataracts in the diabetic population, and cataract patients with this metabolic disease require closer follow-up before, during and after cataract removal. Some studies suggest that people with diabetes have a five-fold risk of developing cataracts earlier.

How Diabetes Affects the Eyes?

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to experience vision changes and diabetic eye disease. Depending on how often your glucose (blood sugar) levels are above your target range, you might be twice as likely to develop cataracts. If you have fluid buildup in the center of your retina (macular edema), you have a higher risk for vision loss.

Short-Term Vision Changes Caused by Diabetes

Diabetes can impact your eyesight before you’re diagnosed and when you’re changing treatments or providers because this temporary elevation in blood glucose can cause blurred vision. The visual impairment can last days or weeks as the high blood sugar alters intraocular fluid levels and causes swelling of the lens inside the eye, affecting your eyes’ ability to focus light and transform it into images. This blurry vision typically goes away when levels fall to a normal range.

Long-Term Vision Damage from Diabetes

Long-term uncontrolled diabetes is dangerous for your well-being and eyesight. Tiny blood vessels in the retina lining the back of your eye are damaged from the high blood sugar and will leak fluid, bleed and swell. New blood vessels may form which are weaker and can cause more leaking, scarring the tissues and increasing intraocular eye pressure. This is called diabetic retinopathy, but people with diabetes are more at risk for other eye diseases, including cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Why Do People with Diabetes Develop Cataracts Earlier than Others?

It’s unknown why people with this metabolic disease are twice as likely to develop cataracts as those without, but researchers believe that high blood sugar causes protein deposits inside the eye’s natural lens to build up and clump, leading to a cataract. You may have an even higher risk if you have a family history of cataracts, take certain medications or have a previous eye injury or eye surgery.

You can reduce your cataract risk by controlling your blood sugar levels, quitting smoking, wearing UV protective sunglasses and eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables.

Contact Our Cataract Surgeon in the Bay Area

Fortunately, cataracts are highly curable with cataract surgery. If you would like to know more about cataract surgery, we encourage you to schedule a personal consultation with San Jose ophthalmologist Mark Mandel, MD. Contact Optima Eye by emailing or calling 877-210-2020 ext. 3 today.