Skip to Content

What do kidney disease eyes look like?

When we think about kidney disease, we often associate it with symptoms such as fatigue, swelling, and changes in urine output. However, it is important to recognize that kidney disease can also affect various organs in the body, including the eyes. People with kidney disease or those who are on dialysis may experience a range of eye problems that can impact their vision and overall eye health. In this blog post, we will explore the common eye problems associated with kidney disease, their causes, and how they can be managed.

Eye problems associated with kidney disease

One of the most common eye problems experienced by individuals with kidney disease is dry eyes. This condition occurs as a result of impaired blinking and tear formation. The decreased production of tears can lead to dryness, redness, soreness, and a gritty sensation in the eyes. Additionally, extra calcium and phosphate can accumulate in the eyes, causing irritation and discomfort.

Dry eyes

Impaired blinking and tear formation contribute to the development of dry eyes in individuals with kidney disease. The reduced blinking rate can lead to inadequate tear distribution across the surface of the eyes, resulting in dryness. Furthermore, the decreased production of tears affects the lubrication and nourishment of the eyes, leading to discomfort and irritation.

Some common symptoms of dry eyes include redness, soreness, a feeling of grittiness, and blurred vision. These symptoms can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and may interfere with daily activities. It is important for individuals with kidney disease to be aware of these symptoms and seek appropriate management.

Calcium and phosphate deposition

In individuals with kidney disease, there may be an imbalance of calcium and phosphate levels in the body. This imbalance can lead to the deposition of extra calcium and phosphate in various organs, including the eyes. When these minerals settle in the eyes, it can cause irritation and discomfort.

The presence of calcium and phosphate deposits in the eyes can affect vision and overall eye health. It can cause cloudiness, blurry vision, and even interfere with the perception of colors. If left untreated, these deposits may contribute to the development of more serious eye conditions.

Impact of kidney disease on overall eye health

In addition to dry eyes and calcium-phosphate deposition, kidney disease can have a broader impact on an individual’s overall eye health. The impaired function of the kidneys can result in decreased blood flow to the eyes, affecting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. This reduced blood flow can contribute to the development of eye conditions and diseases.

Increased risk of eye conditions and diseases

Individuals with kidney disease are at an increased risk of developing certain eye conditions and diseases. These include:

1. Cataracts: Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded, leading to blurred vision. People with kidney disease may be more prone to developing cataracts due to factors such as increased oxidative stress and fluid imbalances in the eye.

2. Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions characterized by damage to the optic nerve, often associated with increased pressure within the eye. Individuals with kidney disease may have an elevated risk of developing glaucoma due to factors such as altered fluid dynamics and compromised blood flow.

3. Macular degeneration: Macular degeneration is a condition that causes the deterioration of the central part of the retina, known as the macula. Kidney disease can increase the risk of macular degeneration, potentially leading to vision loss or the distortion of central vision.

It is essential for individuals with kidney disease to be aware of these potential risks and to have regular eye examinations to detect and manage these conditions in a timely manner.

Diagnostic tests for eye problems in kidney disease

To diagnose eye problems associated with kidney disease, a comprehensive eye examination is typically conducted. This examination may involve various tests and assessments to evaluate the overall health and function of the eyes. Some common diagnostic tests include:

1. Measurement of tear production: This test assesses the quantity and quality of tears produced by the tear glands. It helps determine whether an individual has dry eyes and the severity of the condition.

2. Imaging tests: Imaging tests, such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) or fundus photography, can provide detailed images of the structures within the eyes. These tests can help identify any abnormalities or changes in the retina, optic nerve, or other eye structures.

Management and treatment of eye problems associated with kidney disease

Lifestyle modifications

Making certain lifestyle modifications can help manage and alleviate eye problems associated with kidney disease. Some strategies include:

1. Use of artificial tears and eye drops: Artificial tears can provide relief from dryness and help lubricate the eyes. Eye drops with anti-inflammatory properties may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.

2. Good eye hygiene practices: Practicing good eye hygiene involves avoiding rubbing or touching the eyes excessively, keeping the eyes clean, and protecting them from environmental irritants such as dust or smoke.

Medications and therapies

In some cases, medications and therapies may be recommended to manage eye problems associated with kidney disease. These can include:

1. Anti-inflammatory medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort in the eyes.

2. Control of calcium and phosphate levels: Controlling calcium and phosphate levels in the body through medications can help prevent the deposition of minerals in the eyes and reduce irritation.

Surgical interventions

For advanced eye conditions, surgical interventions may be necessary. Procedures such as cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, or laser treatments may be performed to improve vision and manage eye complications.

Prevention and maintenance of eye health in kidney disease

Prevention and maintenance are key in preserving eye health for individuals with kidney disease. Here are some important steps to take:

1. Regular monitoring and check-ups: Regular examinations by an eye care professional are crucial for early detection and management of eye problems associated with kidney disease.

2. Control of kidney disease progression: Proper management of kidney disease, including adherence to medications and lifestyle modifications, can help slow down disease progression and minimize the impact on eye health.

3. Importance of overall health and well-being: Engaging in a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, can contribute to overall eye health in individuals with kidney disease.


Eye problems are a common occurrence in individuals with kidney disease, and they can significantly impact vision and overall eye health. Dry eyes and calcium-phosphate deposition are two common issues that individuals may experience. Additionally, kidney disease can increase the risk of developing other eye conditions and diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It is crucial for individuals with kidney disease to be proactive in recognizing and managing these eye problems. Regular eye check-ups, lifestyle modifications, and appropriate treatment approaches can help preserve and improve eye health for those living with kidney disease. Prioritizing eye health as part of overall care can contribute to better quality of life and well-being.


  1. 10 Signs You May Have Kidney Disease
  2. Eyes and Chronic Kidney Disease
  3. The eye: a window on kidney diseases – PMC
  4. Kidney Disease & The Risk of Vision Problems
  5. The Eye/Kidney Connection