Diabetes is a systemic disease; it can affect the eyes. Diabetes weakens blood vessels throughout the body, including the fragile ones within the retina. Anyone who has had diabetes for more than 10 years is at high risk for diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness. Blood vessels can weaken and leak into the retina, causing diabetic macular edema. Cataracts can begin forming much faster than usual. If detected early, problems can be monitored and treated. Because most diabetics do not experience symptoms in their eyes in the early years, yearly exams, early detection and treatment are the key to preventing loss of vision.