Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes lead to damage of the retina, the layer on the back of the eye that captures images and sends them as nerve signals to the brain. Whether diabetic retinopathy develops depends in part on how high blood sugar levels have been and how long they have been above a target range. Other things that may increase your risk for diabetic retinopathy include high blood pressure, pregnancy, a family history of the condition, kidney disease, high cholesterol, and whether you smoke.People who have diabetes are also at risk for other problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma, that damage vision. They are also at risk for a severe form of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma. Cataracts are frequently caused by a lifetime of sun exposure, and diabetes speeds up their formation.