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How Diabetes Can Impact Low Vision

How Diabetes Can Impact Low VisionDiabetes, a chronic disease affecting millions worldwide, can wreak havoc on your body and eyes. In fact, it's the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20-74. One of the most common vision problems caused by diabetes can lead to a person being defined as having ‘low vision’, Low Vision is defined as when the vision decreases to a point that it, limits a person's ability to perform daily activities like reading, driving, or recognizing faces. Let’s examine how diabetes can result in low vision, exploring its causes and possible treatment options.

If you have diabetes, you must prioritize your eye health by getting regular diabetic eye exams. Schedule an appointment with the team at Steven Schoenbart, OD Low Vision and take proactive steps towards preserving your vision.

Understanding Low Vision

Low vision is defined as a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse or a visual field of less than 20 degrees. In simpler terms, it affects a person's ability to perform daily tasks like reading, cooking, or driving. It’s a permanent condition that neither eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery can improve the vision.

There are different types of low vision, depending on the cause and severity of the visual impairment. These include central vision loss, peripheral vision loss, night blindness, and color blindness.

Causes of Low Vision

Various factors, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy, among others, can cause low vision. Some people are also born with low vision due to genetic conditions.

Effects of Low Vision on Daily Life

Low vision can significantly impact a person's daily life, making it harder to perform routine tasks and affecting their ability to work or engage in social activities. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and reduced quality of life. It's important to note that low vision is not the same as blindness, and people with low vision often have some degree of vision.

Diabetes and Its Effect on Vision

Diabetes affects how the body processes blood sugar (glucose), leading to high blood sugar levels over time. These high blood sugar levels can damage various body organs, including the eyes, leading to severe eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy. In addition, it can also lead to other eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of low vision in people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This causes the formation of new blood vessels, which leak fluid and blood, leading to scarring and vision loss or even blindness.


Cataracts are also common in people with diabetes, and they can cause low vision by clouding the eye's lens. While cataracts can be surgically removed, people with diabetes may have a higher risk of complications during the surgery.


Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss known as ‘Tunnel Vision’. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, causing low vision if left untreated.

It's important to note that not everyone with diabetes will develop eye complications, and the risk increases with the severity and duration of the disease. However, regular eye exams can detect and treat problems early on.

Managing Diabetes and Low Vision

Managing diabetes and low vision can be challenging, but several strategies can help improve your vision and overall quality of life. Here are some ways to manage both conditions:

Regular Diabetic Eye Exams

A diabetic eye exam is different from a normal eye exam as it includes additional tests to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Your eye doctor may dilate your pupils, and perform a visual acuity test, intraocular pressure test, retinal examination, and a visual field test to assess your visual function more thoroughly. Often specific devices to photograph or laser-scan the retina are used in a diabetic eye exam. It is important for people with diabetes to inform their eye doctor and schedule regular diabetic eye exams to detect any eye complications early on and prevent the progression of low vision.

Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is essential for preventing and managing diabetic retinopathy and other eye complications. Work with your healthcare team to develop a diabetes management plan, including regularly monitoring blood sugar levels, maintaining target weight or body-mass index (BMI) and taking medication as needed.

Visual Aids

One of the ways that diabetic patients with low vision can maximize their usable vision is through visual aids. These include low vision glasses, magnifiers, telescopes, and other devices that help patients read, drive, and engage in vision-dependent activities. Advanced technology like video magnifiers and screen readers can also be helpful.

It's important to work with a low vision eye doctor to determine the most effective visual aids for your specific needs. Dr. Schoenbart and the team at Steven Schoenbart, OD Low Vision can provide information and guidance on visual aids that can help you maximize your remaining vision and maintain your independence.

Lifestyle Changes

Making healthy lifestyle changes can improve both diabetes and low vision. Maintaining a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and managing stress can all benefit your eye and overall health.

Low Vision Optometrist in Westbury.

If you or a loved one is experiencing low vision due to diabetes, don't hesitate to seek help from the team at Steven Schoenbart, OD Low Vision. With advanced technology and a variety of visual aids, we can help you improve your usable vision. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Schoenbart and his team today.