Special Considerations for Contact Lenses in People with Diabetes

August 6th, 2018
doctor consulting senior patient

People with diabetes tend to be at higher risk of certain eye complications, but with the proper precautions, they can wear contact lenses safely.

Many people with diabetes live relatively normal lives, but when it comes to eye health, special precautions must be taken. Unfortunately, the condition can make it more difficult to wear contact lenses safely.

However, the proper protective measures and the advice of a trained professional can contribute to an improved lifestyle and vision, even for people dealing with the risks associated with diabetes. Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re living with diabetes but are also interested in wearing contact lenses.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Because people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, contacts can lead to increased complications. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina begin swelling and leaking, leading to clouded vision. If left untreated, the condition can eventually cause vision loss.

However, this doesn’t mean contacts are strictly a “no” for people with diabetes. A study conducted in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics found that out of 254 patients with diabetes and 254 without, the group with diabetes had only a 1.8% higher rate of general complications when it came to the daily wear of soft contact lenses, and a 2% higher rate of corneal abrasions.


If you’re a contact lens wearer with diabetes, it’s especially important to keep your lenses, contact solution, and contact case as clean as possible. Because diabetes can it harder for wounds to heal, it’s vital that you avoid the injuries or scratches that could occur if dust or particles are stuck in your contacts.

It’s recommended that you clean your lenses daily and abide by the schedule of changing out your lenses (usually daily or biweekly). Additionally, you shouldn’t sleep in your lenses. For people with diabetes, daily disposable lenses are typically the best option, since they run the lowest risk of gathering dirt, tears, or other imperfections that could irritate the eye.


Dry eyes are one of the most common side effects of contact lens use, but the severity and commonality of this problem increases in people with diabetes. People with diabetes already have a 50% higher chance of developing dry eye syndrome due to the fact that high blood sugar can facilitate dryness. In addition to being inconvenient and uncomfortable, dry eyes can also increase your risk of corneal abrasion, especially when paired with contact lenses. This can cause vision problems and tissue damage.

Another common complication found in contact lens wearers with diabetes is corneal erosion when the outer layer of the cornea becomes detached from its first inner layer. This condition can be painful and be drying.

Making A Choice

Everyone’s eyes are different, so one person with diabetes could be fine to wear contact lenses while others may have an adverse reaction to them. That’s why it’s best to consult an eye doctor before making any big decisions. At your appointment, you should disclose your entire medical history to allow the doctor to make a fully-informed recommendation. If your doctor doesn’t believe that contacts are a good option for you, glasses or LASIK surgery could be the eye care solution you’ve been seeking.

The experts at ICON EyeCare are experienced in evaluating people with diabetes to determine the vision solution that best fits their needs; we will be more than happy to work with you to determine a safe and effective way to safely improve your vision. Schedule your initial consultation with us today.

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