Living with diabetes: Protect your vision

Living with diabetes: Protect your vision

When diabetes isn’t well-managed, it may damage your eyes. In fact, that’s one of the most common causes of vision loss. But you can take steps to help protect your eyesight.

Along with controlling your blood sugar, getting a dilated eye exam every year may help you catch problems early — and help save more of your sight.

More good news: If you have diabetes, the eye exam may be covered as part of your UnitedHealthcare benefits when you use a network doctor.* It may be covered by your medical plan or any vision coverage you have.

Why annual eye exams matter

Eye problems related to diabetes may have no symptoms at first. So even if you can see just fine, diabetes could be harming your eyes. These often-silent problems may include:

  • Diabetic retinopathy. Damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Glaucoma. Damage to the eye’s optic nerve may result in vision loss or blindness.
  • Cataracts. A clouding of the eye’s lens may dim and blur vision.

When you get dilated eye exams regularly, you stand a better chance of finding — and treating — these problems early.

How the exam works

A dilated eye exam is more than getting your eyes tested to see if you need new glasses. For this type of exam, you’ll need to visit a specialist, such as an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

During the exam, the doctor will:

  • Put drops in your eyes to widen your pupils. This makes it easier to spot any problems.
  • Look at the retina and optic nerve for signs of damage.
  • Measure your eye pressure and side vision.

Your sight is precious. So be sure to protect it with an annual dilated eye exam. And talk with your doctor right away if you notice vision changes, pain or pressure in your eyes.

What to do next

Learn how to take control of type 2 diabetes with this free toolkit.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to receive our e-newsletter? Subscribe to Healthy Mind Healthy Body® today.

  • If you are a new member, register on® to begin getting the newsletter.
  • If you've already registered on, log into your account and update your Subscriptions in the Account Settings section.

*Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered. You may be responsible for any deductible, co-pay or co-insurance that may apply.