Eye Complications and Diabetes Patients
Eye complications are probably one of the greatest concerns among diabetic patients.
Eye complications for diabetic patients are common, and they have a higher risk of becoming blind compared to non diabetic patients. But it is helpful to know that with regular medical examination and consultations, the majority of patients suffering from diabetes may just have minor eye problems.
To understand why such eye complications happen, it is very helpful to know and be familiar with the human eye’s anatomy and physiology.
The eye is a round ball of sensory organs coming from the posterior side of the brain.
It is covered with tough connective tissue membrane. Its anterior covering is called the cornea; it is a clear and curved disk which is designed to focus light as it enters the eyes.
As light pass through it, it initially enters the first chamber of the eye called the anterior chamber, (this chamber is filled with clear fluid called the aqueous humor), then through the pupil, (via a small opening in the iris that controls or magnifies the intensity of light), and next through the lens, (this refracts and deflects light.
Lastly, the light passes through the next chamber, called the posterior chamber, which is in the middle of the eye, (this again is fluid filled and is referred to as vitreous humor), then it reaches the most posterior part called the retina, (nerve covering).
Just like a photo camera it captures images or pictures and sends it back to the brain for decoding. The retina has a very specialized part, the macula, which is filled with capillaries and is highly sensitive for seeing very refined details.
The leading cause of blindness among diabetic patients is Glaucoma. According to statistics, 40% of diabetic patient will suffer from glaucoma.
It is said that the longer a patient suffers from diabetes, the more prone they are for glaucoma.
This said risk is also proportionate to age.
So what is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye complication that occurs when there is an increase in the intraocular pressure – this is the pressure inside the eye.
The increase of pressure is brought about by the inability of the eye to drain the aqueous humor properly thereby causing a build up of pressure which presses the blood supply to the retina and optic nerves. If permanent damage to these structures occur, blindness will ensue.
There are drugs available and medical procedures that are able to decrease any pressure on the eye and Glaucoma is manageable when diagnosed early.
The most common of eye complications for diabetic patients is Cataracts.
Medical surveys and studies have shown that 60% of diabetics will develop lenticular opacities or cataracts. It is observed that diabetic patients of younger age have higher predominance.
So what happens when patients have cataracts?
In this kind of condition the lens, (which is supposed to be clear), becomes clouded because of degraded proteins which block off the light. Most patients with this eye complication will have “glaring” problems or blurred vision.
It helps if patients wear eye glasses. If severe visual impairment ensues, cataract extraction or removal of lens and the transplantation of new one is usually suggested.
Although, statistics may have shown great association between diabetes, glaucoma and cataracts, its cause still remains vague and unclear. Symptomatic treatment is usually followed.
Last and most commonly encountered eye complication among diabetic patients is the Retinopathy. This happen when diabetes
Treatment is usually through laser treatment, (photocoagulation). It gives a better blood supply to the retina by removing the clots or plaques to the eye capillaries brought about by diabetes.
However scary it might sound, eye complications are not that hopeless.
As stated earlier, treatments best work when they are started early. Early diagnosis is the key.