Does Diabetes and Diabetic Retinopathy affect Vision?

Published on
June 22, 2022

Approximately 4.1 million Americans aged 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy. Nearly 899,000 people in this age range have vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition caused by diabetes that usually affects both eyes. Diabetic retinopathy affects one out of three diabetic patients. A high glucose level in the body can damage the tiny blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye, called the retina. A variety of eye problems may result from this, ranging from unnoticeable symptoms to blindness. The earliest stage of this disease is the most common and causes the least amount of vision loss. 

How does diabetic retinopathy affect your vision?

The common symptom of diabetic retinopathy is that you end up with vision loss in certain areas of the eye. Most of the time there is not a complete change in vision, rather sections of the vision start to go, usually due to what can occur in the retinal vasculature. When your sugar levels are high, bleeding can occur causing patches in your vision where you cannot see well. Therefore, a lot of times it's more about being able to find areas where you see best using magnification and then focusing on the areas where you don't see so well.

Additionally, there are problems with contrast because with less lighting, the retina begins to lose some of its ability to see in some areas. This means that sometimes you are not getting the full effect of lighting. As a result, you are essentially almost blinded by the glare. People with diabetic retinopathy can benefit from using tinted glasses outside as well as indoors. In fact, using a tint to change how they see can be extremely helpful for them.

Are diabetic retinopathy's effects confined to the central vision or do they affect peripheral vision as well?

Both central and peripheral vision are affected by diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can also cause diabetic macular edema, which adversely affects your central vision to the point where you cannot see 20/20 any longer. Patches or areas with poor sight will usually be in the periphery. Therefore, diabetic retinopathy may cause central vision loss if the macula is affected and then there may be patches of vision loss in the periphery depending on where the bleeding occurs.

When does diabetic retinopathy affect your central and peripheral vision?

The changes in your central and peripheral vision generally occur when your sugar levels are not controlled for a long period of time. It is possible for diabetic retinopathy to go years without changes. When a person is unable to control their sugar levels, whether they're at high levels for a long time, or if there is a lot of fluctuation in their sugar levels, then this puts more stress on the vessels. As the uncontrolled diabetes progresses, it can also make it worse. You will see more of the true vision loss from diabetic retinopathy over time when you have uncontrolled diabetic retinopathy for many years.

Schedule an eye exam at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach 

Our team of experienced optometrists offers comprehensive medical eye exams for people at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Using state-of-the-art technology, including Optomap, OCTs and much more, we offer advanced care for diabetic retinopathy and early detection of the disease. To schedule an eye exam, please contact (562) 925-6591.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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