Ocular manifestations of diabetes include retinopathy, cataract, uveitis, and glaucoma. The treatment of these ocular manifestations of diabetes is beginning to change from surgical and laser techniques, to a more proactive approach. Screening and education programs are bringing about the understanding in people that early recognition and intervention are essential to keeping eyes healthy. This may soon provide hope for better management of blood sugar levels and the ocular manifestations of diabetes.

As a diabetic, caring for your eyes should be a high priority for you. According to eMedicineHealth.com, diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. In the U.S. it is the most common cause of blindness in people that are 65 years or younger.

One of the biggest problems is that many people don’t even realize that they have diabetes until they begin to have vision problems. This means that over the years they have let high blood sugar levels run rampant in their bloodstream, causing irreversible damage. Often, by the time they seek treatment, the problem is already too bad to treat. This is why it is important to have your eyes checked annually at minimum.


What Are the Ocular Manifestations of Diabetes?


Ocular manifestations of diabetes can be minimal to severe, temporary or permanent.

The most common of the ocular manifestations of diabetes is blurry vision. This is just a temporary vision loss that results from sugar in blood causing swelling in the eye, disrupting the lens, and changing the focal point of the eye. This repeated swelling may result in damage overtime and is thought to be the reason many diabetics develop a cataract.

Of all of the ocular manifestations of diabetes, retinopathy is the most serious. Blood sugar abnormalities eventually cause ‘ballooning’ in the small blood vessels of the eye. Eventually, these ‘balloons’ burst(micro-aneurysms) they leak fluid (edema) and bleed into the retina. When this fluid accumulates, it causes swelling and vision loss.

This condition sometimes turns into proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which is a more severe form that often leads to blindness. When the retina does not get the oxygen that it needs, the body responds by creating new blood vessels. This should be a good thing right? It would be if the new blood vessels were not so delicate. These new blood vessels are fragile and begin to leak. If this is not treated promptly, the vision loss can be permanent. Furthermore, these blood vessels cause scarring which often results in the retinal detaching. This vision loss may be permanent.

The likelihood that you will develop vision loss due to diabetes depends on your blood sugar control. It also dependson your blood pressure levels, how long you have had diabetes, and genetics. Other common types of ocular manifestations of diabetes include:

Cataracts – Cataracts is characterized by the clouding of the eye’s clear lens. People with cataracts are 60% more likely to develop cataracts than people with diabetes.

Glaucoma –Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. The pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry the blood to the retina and the optic nerve, causing gradual vision loss.

Uveitis – Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Uveitis requires urgent treatment to control the inflammation.