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Diabetes Mellitus and Ocular Manifestations


Once again we define Diabetes Mellitus as a chronic metabolic disease which favors the appearance and development of numerous changes and damage to the various organs of the human body. Our eyes are not exempted and multiple lesions are produced, both externally and internally, with varying degrees of injury and severity which is why today Diabetes Mellitus is considered one of the most important diseases capable of producing critical ocular damage and blindness.{{more}}

Based on the above and with the knowledge acquired from previous articles, as well as the enormous prevalence of this disease in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we will dedicate this column today to briefly describing some of these complications as well as the importance of their different management and treatment.

The most external changes are alterations in the eye-ball movements, conjunctival hemorrhage, deficit in the tear-film (resulting in ‘dry-eye syndrome’), decreased sensibility of the cornea with delayed healing of the same in the presence of lesions and increased corneal thickness. In the anterior chamber, there are color changes of the iris (the circular, colored curtain of the eye) and blood vessels can appear in the same. There can also be synechiae (inflamed iris “sticking” to the lens) and also a higher prevalence of cataracts at an earlier age. Diabetes Mellitus can also produce hemovitreous (blood inside of the vitreous body which is normally a transparent gel) and damage to the retina (diabetic retinopathy) with the manifestation of hemorrhage, exudates, hemovitreous, posterior detachment of the vitreous body and occasional retinal detachment. Last but not least, injury to the optic nerve produces ischemic areas and glaucoma.

My intentions on writing this article have not been to scare anyone; on the contrary it has been to try and elevate the populations’ awareness of how necessary it is to win the battle with this dangerous disease. Patients’ education is an important component of care because virtually all patients with Diabetes Mellitus will develop some form of Diabetic retinopathy at some point during the course of the disease. This is why it is of utmost importance to follow the regimen of medication(s), diet and exercise as prescribed by your physician, this way avoiding the most severe of this disease which is BLINDNESS.

Dr. Pedro A. F. Suarez

Consultant Ophthalmologist