Good health is an important part of good vision. The healthier you are, the better chance you have of avoiding risks to your eyes. 

Michael V. Landy, OD, says “getting routine eye exams is crucial for detecting vision problems early.  Many diseases are capable of permanent vision loss and blindness but can be prevented when detected early on.  The best examples of this are glaucoma and diabetic eye disease. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Optometric Association (AOA) both recommend routine eye care to monitor for eye diseases.  If you haven’t been checked out in the past twelve months, now is a good time to call for an appointment.”

In addition to regular eye exams, take the following steps to lower your risk of eye disease and vision loss:

Avoid Smoking – Quitting smoking can have many good effects on your health. Avoiding smoking can also protect the health of your eyes. By quitting smoking, you can help to possibly reduce your risk of developing several different types of eye diseases.

Quitting smoking may reduce your risk of developing:  age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.  Quitting smoking will also reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if you are diabetic.

Eat Healthy Foods– Lifelong good nutrition may lower your risk of some eye diseases. By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you will have a better chance of staying healthy and keeping your eyes healthy. A lifetime diet rich in certain dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, may reduce your risk of getting AMD.

By eating healthy foods, you will lower your risk of developing other diseases, such as diabetes, which can lead to diabetic eye disease. Diabetes is also a risk factor for developing glaucoma.

Stay Active – Staying active is part of a healthy lifestyle that can improve your overall health. Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing problems that can lead to eye disease. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Control Your Blood Pressure – Controlling your blood pressure is not just a good idea for your heart. It is also a good idea for protecting your eyesight. High blood pressure can increase your risk for glaucoma. It may also increase your risk for diabetic retinopathy if you have diabetes.

Protect Your Eyes from the Sun – You already know that you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays when you are outdoors. But do you know that you also need to wear protective sunglasses to protect your eyes from those same UV rays? The sun releases energy (radiation) in many forms. The sunlight we see is one form. The heat we feel from the sun is another. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, a third type, are also invisible to the eye. UV rays cause sunburn. They can also damage your eyes and hurt your vision.

For more information contact your eye care professional.

CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services received a $2,125 grant from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation to help meet the operational expenses of the Youth Vision Screening program in north Chautauqua County.  The program has been providing free vision screenings to children ages 3-7 years old since the early 1970s.  CBA’s mission is to enable visually impaired people to be active members of their community and to provide education and services to prevent vision loss.  The Youth Vision Screening program discovers vision issues and over the years has prevented vision impairment and loss.

CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services provides services in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties to those living with legal blindness, as well as youth vision screening for children ages 3-6 years old.    CBA is a contract agency with the New York State Commission for the Blind to provide services for county residents living with legal blindness.  CBA also receives funds from the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, and the United Way of Cattaraugus County, which supports the two programs.

“In 2022, CBA’s Blindness Prevention Coordinator, Priscilla Shoup, screened 4,387 children in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties. In north Chautauqua County, 1,179 children at 26 locations were screened with a referral rate of 16% or 181 children.  Those 181 children were referred for a comprehensive eye exam and possibly glasses.  If their families cannot afford the exam and glasses the Dr. Tim Grace Sight for Success Fund will provide the funds needed to help our smallest citizens be successful.  We are so grateful for our local eye care providers who give us a discounted price to be able to help these families out,” said Joni Blackman, CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services Executive Director. The NCCF Community grant will support the costs of the program and add to the Dr. Tim Grace Sight for Success Fund program. 

To donate to CBA, the Youth Vision Screening program and/or the Dr. Tim Grace Sight for Success program, please visit CBA’s website at, email or call 716-664-6660.

“Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of legal blindness in individuals under 65. In the early stages of retinopathy, the vision might not be affected, and you can’t feel it. The only way to detect it early is with a dilated retinal exam. It is recommended to have yearly eye exams. If caught early, there are treatments that may prevent permanent loss of vision,” says John Rundquist, Optometrist and Executive Director of the WNY Center for the Visually Impaired. Dr. Rundquist specializes in low vision eye exams.  He holds appointments at the CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services office one day each month.

Anyone with diabetes is at risk for vision loss or blindness from diabetic eye disease.  Unfortunately, diabetic eye disease has no warning signs.  Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care are the only ways to prevent vision loss.  An annual, comprehensive dilated eye examination is one of the best ways to detect early signs of diabetic eye disease.  Taking your diabetic medication as prescribed, maintaining a healthy diet, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and refraining from smoking can also help control your diabetes which lessens your risks of diabetic eye disease.

Ways that diabetic eye disease may affect your eyes:

A cataract is the clouding of the eye’s lens. Many people with diabetes develop cataracts.  In the early stages, only your eye doctor may detect a cataract. Over time, cataracts can make your vision blurry, hazy, or less colorful. You may have trouble reading or doing other everyday activities. The good news is that cataract removal surgery is safe and corrects vision problems caused by cataracts. 

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease.  By 2030, an estimated 11 million people will have diabetic retinopathy. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to get diabetic retinopathy.  Symptoms may not be noticeable but can include blurry vision, halos or flashing lights, double vision, dark spots or floaters, pain or a sensation of pressure, diminished peripheral vision and poor night vision.  Only a vision care specialist can diagnose the condition.

The great news is that diabetic retinopathy can be treated to reduce the risk of blindness by 90% when detected early.  Laser treatments have been used successfully for decades.  More recently medications have been developed which greatly improve treatment options.  Controlling blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy and the need for laser surgery with severe diabetic retinopathy is lessened. As with all conditions, early evaluation and treatment yields the greatest success.

Glaucoma is usually, but not always, accompanied by high internal eye fluid pressure and optic nerve damage that characteristically causes visual field defects in one’s peripheral and central vision.  Symptoms include subtle loss of contrast, difficulty driving at night, and in the later stage, loss of peripheral vision and possibly central vision.

Early detection is very important since there are no early symptoms. Risk factors include age, family history, being African or Hispanic American, diabetes, and myopia.  To reduce one’s risk, it’s important to have routine eye examinations to detect the disease, faithful use of any prescribed medications and to continue close monitoring by your eye doctor.

It is a good idea to have an annual comprehensive eye examination even if you do not suffer from diabetes and especially if you’ve experienced any visual problems.  If you suffer from diabetes, make sure you have a comprehensive eye examination with dilation each year.  Make an appointment with our experienced fellowship trained retinal specialist today. 

CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services is a NY State Commission for the Blind contracted provider and a United Way agency dedicated to the mission of enabling visually impaired people to be active members of their community and providing education and services to prevent vision loss.  CBA serves all of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties.  The office at 510 W. Fifth St., Jamestown, N.Y. can be contacted at 716-664-6660 or by visiting

While White Cane Awareness Day is celebrated internationally on October 15, the local vision rehabilitation and orientation & mobility provider, CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services, will hold a walk on Thursday, October 12 at 5 p.m. at Baker Park in Jamestown.  Baker Park is located across from the CBA office at 510 W. Fifth St.  Parking is available beside and behind the office. The walk will proceed around the park, and then gather in the park where supporters can learn more about the white cane, try their hand at walking with the cane, and enjoy meeting others who support our services. Refreshments will be served following the presentations in the CBA offices.

CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services provides services to the legally blind in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties. The white cane is the universal symbol of blindness or visual impairment.  The United States Congress adopted a joint resolution in 1964 designating October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day and recognizing that white canes enable blind people to travel safely and independently.  It is also a day to increase awareness of the white cane traffic safety laws.

All in attendance can enter a drawing for a Chautauqua Belle history tour of Chautauqua Lake.

For more information visit (a United Way partner agency) or by calling 716-664-6660.

The 2022 White Cane Safety Awareness Day Walk was well attended.

For many people, the vision correction from contact lenses feels more natural compared to glasses.

Contact lenses offer the most efficient eyewear solution for athletes and active individuals who enjoy playing sports. Because they sit on the surface of your eyes and move with them, contact lenses provide seamless vision correction. Their benefits extend to your peripheral vision and they won’t have the same types of visual disruptions that glasses do, such as reflections or fogginess. Since they don’t move around when your head or eyes move, you won’t have to worry about them falling out and potentially breaking.

Anyone interested in purchasing contact lenses must first receive an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional. All contact lenses are classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as prescription medical devices. This applies to prescription and non-prescription (cosmetic or decorative) contact lenses.

The FDA also states that contact lenses are not over-the-counter devices. Companies that sell them as such are misbranding the device and violating Federal Trade Commission regulations by selling contact lenses without a prescription. Contact lenses sold without a prescription from unlicensed vendors may be contaminated and/or counterfeit and are therefore not safe to use. offers the following recommendations to keep eyes healthy while wearing contact lenses:

Different types of contact lenses include:

Soft contact lenses come in two basic forms—daily wear and extended wear. Both lenses are made from thin, flexible material and water. Daily-wear lenses must be removed, cleaned, and stored every day. Extended-wear lenses are designed for overnight wear. However, there is an increased risk of infection associated with extended-wear lenses. They should be worn for the period of time prescribed by an eye doctor.

Hard contact lenses offer clearer vision with certain eye conditions, and specific types may last longer. Many types of hard contact lenses are available in bifocals. It may take longer to adapt to wearing hard contact lenses than soft contact lenses.

Daily-wear soft lenses are generally the most comfortable, and the eyes will adjust to wearing them in less time than with hard contact lenses. Soft lenses may be worn during vigorous physical activities and playing sports with less likelihood that the lenses will slip out of place. Soft contact lenses need special cleaning and disinfection and may tear easily, so they may not last as long as hard contact lenses.

Extended-wear soft lenses offer the same advantages as daily-wear lenses. These lenses may be worn for an extended period, up to a week. However, due to the risk of infection associated with extended use, daily removal and cleaning are recommended.

Regardless of what type of lenses you prefer, the health of your eyes should be your top concern.  Using the lenses as prescribed by your eye care professional will help to avoid painful issues and possible vision loss.

Annual data from Prevent Blindness shows that there were more than 26,000 sports-related eye injuries treated in the United States last year. The new data also showed that the category of “non-powder guns, darts, arrows, and slingshots” had the overall highest rate of eye injuries for the previous year. For children ages 0-12, “pools and water sports” had the highest rate of injuries. These types of injuries may include eye infections, irritations, scratches or trauma.

Prevent Blindness strongly recommends that athletes of any age wear protective eyewear when participating in sports. Prescription glasses, sunglasses and even occupational safety glasses do not provide adequate eye protection.

Prevent Blindness offers the following guidelines to help find the best eye protection for sports:

  1. If you wear prescription glasses, ask your eye doctor to fit you for prescription eye guards.    Purchase eye guards at sports specialty stores or optical stores. At the sports store, ask for a salesperson who is familiar with eye protectors to help you.     When purchasing eye guards with lenses, make sure the lenses either stay in place or pop outward in the event of an accident. Lenses that pop in against your eyes can be very dangerous.
  2. Fogging of the lenses can be a problem when you are active. Some eye guards are available with anti-fog coating and others include side vents for additional ventilation. Try on different types to determine which is right for you.
  3. Polycarbonate eye guards are the most impact resistant. Polycarbonate lenses are also thinner and lighter than plastic, shatterproof, and provide UV protection. For sports use, polycarbonate lenses must be used with protectors that meet or exceed the requirements of ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International, a global standards development organization.
  4. Each sport has a specific ASTM standard, so check the package and/or protector to make sure the appropriate ASTM standard designation for the sport is on the product before buying it. Do not buy the product if there is no ASTM code provided.
  5. Eye guards which are certified by an organization such as Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) or independently tested by an accredited laboratory provide independent verified evidence of protection and performance. Do not buy a product that is labeled as ‘ASTM Certified’ as ASTM does not certify products.
  6. Sports eye guards should be padded or cushioned along the brow and bridge of the nose. Padding will help prevent the eye guards from cutting your skin.
  7. Try on the eye protector to determine if it’s the right size. Adjust the strap and make sure it’s not too tight or too loose.

Spectators Need Protection Too

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), spectators at sporting events should also be careful. Balls, bats, and players can end up in the stands at any time. Spectators should keep their eyes on the game and watch out for foul balls and other flying objects. The AAO also advises that for those who already have reduced vision in one eye, check with your ophthalmologist to see what appropriate eye protection is available and whether they advise participating in any high impact or other high-risk sports.

 “Wearing the proper eye protection while playing sports is essential to protecting healthy vision today and in the future,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO at Prevent Blindness. “An eyecare professional can help to make sure you are using the correct eye protection for your sport and your individual needs.”

For more information on sports eye injury prevention, please visit Prevent Blindness at

What to Know about Back-to-School Eye Health

It’s back-to-school time again. Students are using screens at school even if they are in the classroom.  It’s important as you prepare to start the school year in the new normal, to consider getting your kids an eye exam before classes start.

Eye Health for Kids 101: Staring down the problem

After your child is born, their eyes continue to develop, change, and mature until around the age of seven. During that time, there are lots of important developmental stages that their eyes pass through, and at these precious junctures, eyesight is constantly changing and evolving. Generally, these milestones occur with steady, proper development of your child’s vision, but sometimes these changes lead to vision impairment or even expose other fundamental eye problems.

As much as you have your child’s best interests at heart, the truth is, you may not always know or notice that they have a vision problem. Making matters worse, less than 22% of preschool children across the country receive any kind of vision screening. This helps explain why about 1 in 4 children have undetected vision problems, and why your child may also be at risk for undetected vision impairment.

While there are some signs to clue you in (see below), the only concrete way to guarantee that your child’s vision problems are detected, diagnosed, and corrected properly, is by taking them to your optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam. If vision problems are detected early on — especially before the age of seven — then permanent vision correction will be much more effective. CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services provides free screening to families throughout Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties.

The effects of undetected vision impairment on your child’s development

Children use their eyes for almost everything they do. They use vision for engagement in sports, playing with others, and learning activities, like reading. It is one of the body’s most important senses and delivers constant information to the brain.

When your child has an undetected vision impairment problem, their ability to engage in the classroom, on the playground, and with their teachers and peers is also impaired. For example, if your child has trouble reading the whiteboard or catching the kickball as well as their classmates — then their short-term confidence and self-esteem may be diminished. On a longer timeline, this can lead to developmental, learning, and social adjustment problems.

For example, because untreated vision problems can look like behavioral problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), children may get misdiagnosed. As such, the CDC recommends that every child receives at least one comprehensive dilated eye exam between the ages of three and five, and annually thereafter.

Difference between a vision screening and a comprehensive eye exam

A vision screening administered by schools or during your child’s annual well visit is a good start towards identifying potential vision problems. However, these screenings will not diagnose eye diseases or provide options for correcting your child’s vision, if that is necessary. Only a comprehensive eye exam and consultation with an eye doctor can do this. See the different eye health items checked in a vision screening versus a comprehensive eye exam:


– Visual acuity

– Eyes working together

– Basic eye health

Comprehensive Eye-Exam

 – Visual acuity

 – Eyes working together

 – Basic eye health

 – Chronic diseases

 – Color vision

 – Diagnosis

 – Treatment

Most common vision problems for children

In school-aged children, these five conditions are most commonly diagnosed and treated by optometrists: 

 – Amblyopia — lazy eye

 – Myopia — nearsightedness

 – Hyperopia — farsightedness

 – Astigmatism — abnormal lens shape

 – Exotropia and convergence insufficiency — weakened eye muscles

Refractive errors are relatively easy to correct with prescription glasses or contact lenses, but your eye doctor may also be able to provide potential solutions for more severe eye problems your child might have.


Signs that your child may have a vision problem

Because many students will be doing part or full-time distance learning this year, you’ll want to be on the lookout for these behaviors which may indicate a vision problem:

 – Sits close to the television or computer screen

 – Holds books very close to their face

 – Rubs eyes often

 – Squints or tilts head

 – Loses place while reading

 – Sensitive to light and light changes


Introducing your child to their prescription eyeglasses

Following their eye exam, if any problems were discovered, your child may receive a prescription for a new pair of eyeglasses. The eye doctor will likely help you explain to them how often they need to wear the glasses and in which situations. Beyond that, it will be up to you to help your child take care of their glasses, especially to use them properly, for consistent, optimal vision correction.

For starters, you might consider a warranty that covers replacement of frames and lenses for your little tike’s first pair. Children’s glasses are more prone to damage, especially while your son or daughter gets adjusted to having them on their face. It’s simply part of the process — and the active nature of kids!

Second, to avoid some of the accidents associated with the adjustment phase, ask the optician about impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, spring hinges that hold the glasses in place, and adjustable nose pads for proper bridge fit. These can be a godsend and save you from multiple trips to the store to replace broken frames.

Finally, show your child multiple times exactly how to clean and store their glasses. Always use a microfiber cloth for lens cleaning, since other materials might scratch the lenses unintentionally. Pre-wetted disposable lens cloths are available for purchase and make keeping lenses clean a breeze for children. They should also always place their glasses in the case after they take them off. Generally, it’s a good idea to purchase multiple cases and put them in the most convenient places so your child doesn’t forget. Examples include their backpack, desk at home, bathroom, and so on.

So, you see, giving your child an extra good start this school year is easy. One might even say, it’s easy as A, B, see. Use your eye care insurance today to get them the check-up they need.   ###

At a glance: Dry Eye

What is dry eye?

Dry eye happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears to stay wet, or when your tears don’t work correctly. This can make your eyes feel uncomfortable, and in some cases it can also cause vision problems.

Dry eye is common — it affects millions of Americans every year. The good news is that if you have dry eye, there are lots of things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and stay comfortable.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

Dry eye can cause:

Am I at risk for dry eye?

Anyone can get dry eye, but you might be more likely to have dry eye if you:

What causes dry eye?

Normally, glands above your eyes make tears that keep your eyes wet. Dry eye happens when your tears don’t do their job. This could mean:

How will my eye doctor check for dry eye?

Your doctor can check for dry eye as part of a comprehensive dilated eye exam. The exam is simple and painless — your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and then check your eyes for dry eye and other eye problems.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you think you might have dry eye. To find out if you have dry eye, your doctor might check:

What’s the treatment for dry eye?

Treatment for dry eye usually depends on what’s causing your symptoms. There are a few different types of treatment that can ease your symptoms and help keep your eyes healthy.

Over-the-counter eye drops. The most common treatment for mild dry eye is a type of eye drops called artificial tears. You can get these eye drops without a prescription. There are also over-the-counter moisturizing gels and ointments that may help your eyes feel better.

Prescription medicines. If your dry eye is more serious, your eye doctor may give you a prescription for medicines called cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These medicines are both types of eye drops that can help your eyes make more tears.

Lifestyle changes. If something in your life or your environment is causing your dry eye, or making it worse, your doctor may suggest changes to help protect your eyes.

For example, if a medicine you take for another health condition is causing dry eye, your doctor may also suggest that you try a different medicine.

Your eyes may also feel better if you:

Tear duct plugs. If tears are draining too quickly from your eyes, your doctor may suggest putting special plugs (called punctal plugs) in your tear ducts (small holes in the inner corners of your eyes). These plugs can help keep your tears in your eyes.

Surgery. In some cases, dry eye can happen because your lower eyelids are too loose, causing tears to drain too quickly out of your eye. If this is the cause of your dry eye, your eye doctor may suggest surgery to fix your eyelids and help your tears stay on your eyes. This treatment is not very common.

Talk over your options with your doctor. If another health condition is causing your dry eye, treating that condition may improve your dry eye symptoms. Even if you have dry eye, there are lots of things you can do to help keep your eyes healthy. Remember these tips:

What’s the latest research on dry eye?

Scientists are studying what causes dry eye and how we can treat it better. NEI also funds research on new treatment options.

The sun releases energy (radiation) in many forms. The sunlight we see is one form, and the heat we feel from the sun is another. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, a third type, are also invisible to the eye. UV rays cause sunburn, and they can damage your eyes and hurt your vision.

There are two types of UV rays: UV-A and UV-B. Over time, the effects of these UV rays may cause a number of eye problems. UV-A can hurt your central vision. It can damage the macula, a part of the retina at the back of your eye. The front part of your eye (the cornea and the lens) absorbs most UV-B rays, but these rays may cause even more damage to your eyes than UV-A rays.

You can protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing proper eye protection and hats that block UV rays.

At the beach or on the slopes – Be aware that if you are at the beach or on the ski slopes, you should wear sunglasses with a darker tint to block more light. Your risk of eye damage from the sun is greater because of reflection off the water and snow.

Buy labeled sunglasses – Sunglass makers do not always attach a tag or label stating the amount of UV radiation that sunglasses block. Only buy sunglasses that provide a clear statement about how much UV radiation is blocked.

Read the labels! Always read labels carefully and look for labels that clearly state the sunglasses block 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.

Do children need sunglasses?

Yes. Children are at special risk from the harmful effects of UV rays since their eyes do not have the same ability as adults to protect them from UV radiation.

Here are some helpful suggestions for choosing sunglasses for children:

This will give your child extra protection against the sun. Wearing a hat can cut the amount of UV rays that reach the eyes in half.

UV rays can come from many directions.

They radiate directly from the sun, but they are also reflected from the ground, from water, snow, sand and other bright surfaces. The best intervention for UV protection is to use eyewear that absorbs UV rays and wear a brimmed hat or cap. Like adults, children should wear brimmed caps and sunglasses that screen out 99 to 100% of UV rays.

Eyewear that absorbs UV rays gives you the most protection. All types of eyewear, including prescription and non-prescription glasses, contact lenses and lens implants, should absorb UV-A and UV-B rays. For UV protection in everyday eyewear, there are several options like UV-blocking lens materials, coatings and photochromic lenses. UV protection does not cost a lot of money and does not get in the way of seeing clearly.

People who work or play in the sun for long periods of time are at the greatest risk. The risk of sun related eye problems is higher for people who:

*If you have had cataract surgery, you may be more at risk of injury from sunlight unless the artificial lens you received during surgery absorbs UV rays.

UV protection and proper eyewear for outside activities.

For certain outdoor activities, you may also have to use eyewear designed to provide impact protection for that activity. Here are some things to consider when buying eyewear for outdoor activities:

Biking/Cycling – UV protection and protection from wind and debris

Boating – UV protection and glare protection

Skiing/Winter sports – UV protection

Hiking/Mountain climbing – UV protection and Polarized lenses to reduce glare

Racquet/Ball sports – Protective eyewear and UV protection

Working Outdoors with power tools/chemicals – Protective eyewear and UV protection

Chances are you know someone who is diabetic, or you are yourself.   More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. One in four do not know they have diabetes. Diabetes is more common among certain populations such as African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

You are more likely to have diabetes if you are:


The good news is that you can manage diabetes by taking good care of yourself through healthy meal planning, regular exercise, and taking medication as prescribed. Diabetes-related eye disease can often be prevented or managed with a healthy lifestyle and annual visits to an eye doctor.

If you have diabetes, prevention of diabetic-related eye diseases is a priority. Diabetes-related eye disease can cause you to have trouble reading, seeing faces across the room, seeing at night, or even blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy is very common
Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. It results when high blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to swell and leak, causing blurry vision. New, abnormal blood vessels can also grow and create additional visual problems. Diabetic retinopathy often affects both eyes.

Diabetic retinopathy can develop in persons with any type of diabetes, and the longer you’ve had diabetes, the more likely you are to develop it. Additional risk factors include high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and being from certain ethnicities (African American, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indian/Alaska natives).

Be sure to call your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision, especially if they occur suddenly. Notable changes might include blurring, spots, flashes, blind spots, difficulty reading or doing detailed work, and distortion.

Diabetic retinopathy has two stages of development:

The early stage, called non-proliferative, occurs when the retinal blood vessels weaken and bulge, forming pouches that can leak blood and other fluid, causing the macula to swell (macular edema) and vision distortion. Macular edema develops in about 50% of people with diabetic retinopathy.

The late stage, called proliferative, is when the retina begins to grow new blood vessels, which are fragile and can bleed into the vitreous (clear gel between the lens and retina). With minor bleeding, one might see a few dark spots floating in their vision, but if there is a lot of bleeding, vision may be completely blocked.

Symptoms of the later stage may include blurry vision, trouble seeing colors, vision loss, dark or empty areas of vision, and spots or dark shapes in vision (floaters).

Be sure to call your eye doctor if you notice any changes in your vision, especially if they occur suddenly. Notable changes might include blurring, spots, flashes, blind spots, difficulty reading or doing detail work, and distortion.

Diabetic-related Cataracts

A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye, which is normally clear, becomes cloudy. It’s normal to experience some clouding of the lens as we get older, but people with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts, and often at a younger age. High blood sugar can cause deposits to build up in the lenses

Risk factors for cataracts include excessive sun exposure over time, smoking, high blood pressure, and having obesity.

The only treatment for cataracts is surgery, but sometimes it is not immediately necessary. Using brighter lighting and appropriate sunglasses can help, but if these interventions are not enough to prevent cataracts from impacting daily living, then it may be time for surgery.

Diabetic-related Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is another set of eye diseases that can result from diabetes. Glaucoma occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve typically due to excessive pressure in the eye. There are some types of glaucoma that don’t have symptoms and the loss of vision can occur very slowly so that it’s almost unnoticeable.

With diabetes, a person is twice as likely to develop open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type. Additional risk factors include having a family history of glaucoma, being over age 60, and being of African American, Asian, or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.

Another type of glaucoma-related to diabetes is neovascular glaucoma, which can sometimes happen with diabetic retinopathy and creates new and abnormal blood vessels growing on the iris (colored part of the eye). The new vessels can block off fluid movement out of the eye and raise the pressure inside.

While glaucoma can’t be prevented, early detection and treatment can help it from getting worse. Treatment options include the use of medicine, laser treatment, and surgery.

Remember, diabetes-related eye disease can often be prevented or managed with a healthy lifestyle and annual visits to an eye doctor.