Diabetes and Eye Disease

by Dr. Robert Benza, MD 8. March 2013 09:33
Diabetes is one of the most common problems we face as a society. It has many impacts on the eye as well. As we know, diabetes can present with many or no symptoms including excessive thirst, urination or hunger. Unfortunately, some patients have no symptoms and the disease may go undetected for a long time. On occasion,a patient with significant elevated blood glucose may present with ocular symptoms which alerts the eye physician to do a random blood check.

Diabetes can effect the eye in many ways. Elevated and fluctuating blood sugar can cause changes in the lens which may present as severe fluctuation in a patients vision. Patients may report that they have some very good days but also some very bad days visually. This might be an indication to have your blood sugar evaluated.

In addition, diabetics are more prone for cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. There are certain types of specific cataracts which may give the ophthalmologist a clue about the patients underlying health. Glaucoma is a common condition which may present with elevated eye pressure and is also more common with diabetics. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease where there is damage to the retinal vessels over time which may cause leakage and hemorrhage in the retina resulting in decreased vision. Early detection is important since there is laser therapy and other treatment available if the condition gets to a significant or proliferative stage which requires treatment.

As mentioned earlier, early detection is very important in diagnosing diabetes. Many of the eye conditions discussed can be treated successfully when diagnosed at an earlier stage. We recommend all of our diabetics to have at least an annual dilated eye examination. In general, a yearly ocular and physical examination for patients is a great screening tool to assess your eyes and possibly your overall general health.

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