Diabetes and Eye Disease

Which of these patients had no complaints about their vision?

Patient 1

Right eye

Left eye

 

Patient 2

Right eye

Left eye

Answer:

Neither patient had any complaints about their vision, however, Patient 1 has a significant amount of retinal disease due to diabetes.  Here I have marked some of the diseased tissue so you can see what’s abnormal.

Right eye

Left eye

This patient came in because she wanted to update her glasses, but had no complaints about her vision. When the patient was dilated, we found bleeding and leaking fluid throughout both eyes and promptly sent her back to her primary care doctor for a full diabetes workup.  Until that time, neither she nor her primary care physician was aware that she even had a problem with diabetes.  The reason eye exams are so important is that the blood vessels seen in this area are representative of the blood vessels throughout the body.  In other words, if the eye vessels are bleeding and leaking, the vessels in the heart, lungs, and brain are likely to be in the same condition.

This is a great example of why it’s important to get regular eye examinations even if your vision seems fine.  And that’s especially important for people with a family history of diabetes.

The longer a person has diabetes and the more uncontrolled the blood sugar, the more likely they will be to develop diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.In patients with uncontrolled diabetes, prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to the symptoms of blurred vision and fluctuating vision that will come and go as blood sugar levels fluctuate. Usually distance vision is affected in such cases, however, diabetes can occur without any recognizable symptoms of visual changes. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

If you have diabetes or a family history of diabetes, schedule your exam today.  Don’t wait until irreversible damage occurs.