Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly regulate and use sugar (glucose) for its energy needs, usually because of a failure to produce enough of the hormone known as insulin.
Effects of Diabetes on Eyes
Poorly regulated and high levels of sugar in the blood can cause changes in the optics of the eye, resulting in blurred vision and changes in eyeglass prescriptions. The condition may also interfere with focusing of the eye. Control of the blood sugar level usually corrects these problems.
Diabetes can also cause cataracts, a clouding of the lens inside the eye that blurs vision.
Diabetes can cause double vision when it affects the nerves that control the alignment and movement of the eyes. It can also cause the optic nerve to be more easily damaged by glaucoma.
- Retinal Arterioles.
- Retinal Venules.
- Optic Disc.
- Venous Dilation.
- Capillary Microaneurisms.
- Hard Exudates.
The chances of having some form of diabetic retinopathy increase the longer a person has had diabetes. Retinopathy is present in 90% of those who have had the disease for more than 20 years.
Detection and Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
Research has shown that severe visual loss from diabetic retinopathy can be prevented or delayed by laser treatment, but only if the retinopathy is diagnosed early enough. This is why it is important for most people with diabetes, particularly those who have had the disease for five years or more, to have an annual eye examination performed by a medical doctor trained to recognize the subtle early signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is precisely located and documented with special photographs of the retina called fluorescent angiograms. Treatment with laser photocoagulation is aimed at sealing leaky vessels and preventing the growth of new, abnormal vessels. Laser treatment has risks and side effects, which must be weighed against the benefits for each individual patient. In more advanced retinopathy, the benefits usually outweigh the risks.
Despite treatment or for lack of it, some people with diabetes bleed massively into the eye and require a delicate, microscopic operation called a vitreotomy to remove blood and scar tissue from the eye. Others also need surgery for retinal detachment.
Research into diabetes and diabetic retinopathy is continuing and encourages the hope for prevention and better treatment.