Essential Eye Care for Diabetes

By Floria, Barbara

People with diabetes are at a higher risk for conditions that cause vision loss or blindness than other people, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). If you have diabetes, you can take steps to reduce your risk for vision loss or blindness.

Diabetes can cause the following eye disorders.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to the retina, the light sensitive area at the back of the eye. The damage is caused by changes in the blood vessels that supply the cells of the retina with oxygen and nutrition. In the first stage of retinopathy, called background or nonproliferative retinopathy, the blood vessels develop small balloon-like swellings called microaneurysms and leak fluid and blood, or become clogged. When these changes happen to enough of the blood vessels, the cells of the retina are deprived of their blood supply. In response to the lack of blood, new blood vessels grow. These new blood vessels are abnormal, fragile and leak blood. The result is loss of vision or blindness. This phase is called proliferative retinopathy. Usually, diabetic retinopathy progresses from nonproliferative to proliferative over a period of years. Most often, there are no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. In some cases mild-to-severe blurring, seeing "strings," "cobwebs" or specks floating in your visual field, or vision loss may be symptoms. Retinopathy can be treated with photocoagulation, laser treatment that stops blood leakage and shrinks blood vessels.

Your retina can be badly damaged before you notice any change in vision, and most people with nonproliferative retinopathy have no symptoms, the ADA says. Even with proliferative retinopathy, people sometimes have no symptoms until it's too late to treat the condition. That's why it's crucial for people with diabetes to see an eye care professional every year for eye examinations.

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Indications and Usage for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Prescription Lantus® is a long-acting insulin used to treat adults with type 2 diabetes and adults and children (6 years and older) with type 1 diabetes for the control of high blood sugar. It should be taken once a day at the same time each day to lower blood glucose.

Do not use Lantus® to treat diabetic ketoacidosis.

Important Safety Information for Lantus® (insulin glargine [rDNA origin] injection)

Do not take Lantus® if you are allergic to insulin or any of the inactive ingredients in Lantus®.

You must test your blood sugar levels while using insulin, such as Lantus®. Do not make any changes to your dose or type of insulin without talking to your healthcare provider. Any change of insulin should be made cautiously and only under medical supervision.

Do NOT dilute or mix Lantus® with any other insulin or solution. It will not work as intended and you may lose blood sugar control, which could be serious. Lantus® must only be used if the solution is clear and colorless with no particles visible. Do not share needles, insulin pens or syringes with others.

The most common side effect of insulin, including Lantus®, is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which may be serious. Some people may experience symptoms such as shaking, sweating, fast heartbeat, and blurred vision. Severe hypoglycemia may be serious and life threatening. It may cause harm to your heart or brain. Other possible side effects may include injection site reactions, including changes in fat tissue at the injection site, and allergic reactions, including itching and rash. In rare cases, some allergic reactions may be life threatening.

Tell your doctor about other medicines and supplements you are taking because they can change the way insulin works. Before starting Lantus®, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions including if you have liver or kidney problems, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding or planning to breast-feed.

Lantus® SoloSTAR® is a disposable prefilled insulin pen. Please talk to your healthcare provider about proper injection technique and follow instructions in the Instruction Leaflet that accompanies the pen.

Please click here or the link below for the full prescribing information for Lantus®

US.GLA.13.12.053 © 2014 sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC, A SANOFI COMPANY


Diabetes can lead to glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged, leading to vision loss. It is caused by a poorly understood group of diseases. Most, but not all, of these diseases cause an increase in intraocular pressure, or pressure inside the eye ball. People with diabetes are about 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes, according to the ADA. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for glaucoma. The risk for glaucoma also increases with age. Usually, the damage to the optic nerve that occurs with glaucoma does not cause symptoms. High intraocular pressure can be treated with medicine, usually eye drops, to prevent damage to the optic nerve.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. People who have diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop this condition than people who don't. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age, the ADA says. Cataracts in someone with diabetes tend to progress more quickly than in someone without diabetes. Symptoms of a cataract are blurry vision and glare from oncoming headlights at night. If cataracts are severe enough to interfere with vision, they can be treated by surgery.

Steps to take

The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have eye disease. The following steps can help you preserve your sight:

  • Keep your blood sugar levels under tight control. People who keep these levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy.

  • Control high blood pressure, which can make eye problems worse. Ideally your blood pressure should be 130/80 or lower.

  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking is a risk factor for macular degeneration.

  • Get a regular eye dilated eye exam at least once a year, even if you don't have vision problems. The exam should be by a doctor experienced in the care of people with diabetes.
These are reasons to see your eye care professional right away:

Your Guide to Diabetes