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How Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?

Uncontrolled blood sugar, high blood pressure and other risk factors mean those suffering from diabetes are more likely to develop eye health and vision complications. Our Consultant ophthalmologist Dr Rupal Morjaria offers an expert insight.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the fifth most common cause of blindness in the world and a major cause of blindness among the working population in developed countries. Thankfully, it is treatable and vision loss can be prevented or delayed if detected early.

Complications occur due to the effects of poor blood sugar control together with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. It can result in mild diabetic changes such as a few haemorrhages that do not require treatment but do need monitoring. More severe disease causes bleeding, new vessels in the eye or fluid build-up in the camera film of the eye, require treatment.

Diabetes and glaucoma

People who suffer with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. This occurs when the pressure in the eye is too high, causing damage to the nerve that sends messages to the brain. If this is not detected early, it can cause changes in your field of vision. It is important that the doctor monitoring your eyes for diabetes also checks the pressure of the eye and the nerve at the back of the eyes.

Diabetes and cataract

Cataract is a cloudy lens - and the lens helps to focus images from the outside world onto a small part of the camera film called the fovea. As people get older, their lens gets thicker and ‘yellower’. Having fluctuating blood sugars can expedite this process and people with diabetes may require cataract surgery earlier than others.

How to achieve the best outcomes for patients with diabetes

I specialise in seeing patients with diabetes and cataracts, taking additional steps to avoid swelling and inflammation after surgery. I always fully assess the eye for risks of post-operative macular oedema before my patients undergo any type of surgery.

People with diabetes may need additional treatments during or after surgery to help them get the best outcome. Sometimes additional injections of anti-VEGF agents or steroids are needed to get optimal results, but discussing the risks and benefits of these treatments is an essential part of my conversations with patients.


To find out more about Rupal, click here.


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