Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetics usually develop diabetes-related eye changes at some stage during their life.  The initial changes may be very subtle and not recognised by the patient. Comprehensive eye checks with dilating drops are therefore recommended for all diabetics soon after diagnosis and regularly thereafter.  These screening appointments involve a variety of specialised tests including taking photos and OCT scans of the back of the eye, sometimes with the addition of a fluorescein dye injected into the arm.


Studies have shown that the duration of the condition and the quality of blood glucose control are important risk factors for the development of diabetic eye disease. Blood pressure, cholesterol, pregnancy, tobacco use and ethnicity also play a part.


When diabetes affects blood vessels at the back of the eye, it’s called diabetic retinopathy.  Diabetic retinopathy can cause blood vessels to block leading to the growth of new abnormal blood vessels that can bleed spontaneously.  These blood vessels can also leak fluid at the back of the eye causing swelling.

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Treatment

Treatment of diabetic eye disease starts with good blood glucose control and regular screening. Studies have shown that the duration of the condition and the quality of blood glucose control are important risk factors for the development of diabetic eye disease.

Treatment may involve laser treatment, intraocular drugs and occasionally surgery may be necessary. The use of some medications other than those that control blood glucose levels have also been shown to reduce the risk of progression to significant diabetic eye disease.

Your ophthalmologist at Victorian Eye Surgeons can discuss screening and treatment options with you.