Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Diabetic Eye Problems & Complications

Over time diabetes can damage the small blood vessels of the body. This is the underlying etiology for diabetic retinopathy the most well known ocular complication of diabetes. Damage to these small blood vessels can cause bleeding on the retina, poor oxygen supply to the retina and possible retinal detachment and scarring. Evidence shows that good blood sugar control greatly reduces the risk of diabetic retinopathy and new injectable medications are effective in treating complications when they do occur.

Although diabetic retinopathy is the most well known, it is not the only ocular pathology for which diabetic patients are at risk. Because diabetes affects the blood supply it increases the risk of diseases with a vascular etiology. Retinal vein occlusions are more common in diabetic patients. Diabetic patients are also at greater risk of glaucoma and optic nerve swelling. Poor blood flow to the cranial nerves that innervate the eye muscles can increase the risk of muscle palsy in diabetics. Eye muscle palsies will manifest as sudden onset double vision. Elevated levels of blood glucose in diabetics increase the risk of cataract development.

Consistent blood sugar control long-term has been demonstrated to help decrease complications from diabetes. Yearly eye exams are a hallmark of good diabetic management. However, any unusual eye symptoms require prompt attention by your eye care provider.

Guest Blogger: Shari E. Strier O.D., Optometrist with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center