La diabetes y la vista

La diabetes es una enfermedad compleja ocasionada por la incapacidad del cuerpo para producir insulina, una hormona que elimina el azúcar de la sangre y lo transporta a las células, donde puede usarse para obtener energía.

Without enough insulin, there is too much sugar in the blood. It’s like having a car full of gasoline, but without the key; You have the fuel you need, but you can’t start using it.

Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans. The most common form of diabetes is adult-onset diabetes. Adult-onset diabetes generally affects people over 40 years of age, overweight, and with a sedentary lifestyle.

Other risk factors include those with a family history of diabetes and those who belong to certain ethnic groups. People of African, Native American, Japanese, Latino, or Polynesian ancestry are at higher risk.

Diabetic eye disease

A common complication of diabetes is diabetic eye disease. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of sight-threatening eye problems that people with diabetes can develop.

Glaucoma is one of these diseases.

Diabetic eye disease also includes diabetic retinopathy and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy, a disease that damages the small blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye), is the most common diabetic eye disease. Diabetic retinopathy affects nearly 7.7 million Americans over the age of 40.

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens that causes normal vision to become blurred. People with diabetes are almost twice as likely to develop cataracts as other adults. Cataracts also tend to develop at a younger age.

Diabetes and glaucoma

The relationship between diabetes and open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of glaucoma) has intrigued researchers for years. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics, although some current research is beginning to call this into question. Similarly, a person with open-angle glaucoma is more likely to develop diabetes than a person without the eye disease.

Neovascular glaucoma, a rare type of glaucoma, is always associated with other abnormalities, with diabetes being the most common. In some cases of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels in the retina are damaged. The retina makes new, abnormal blood vessels.

Neovascular glaucoma can occur if these new blood vessels grow in the iris (the colored part of the eye), blocking the flow of fluid in the eye and increasing eye pressure. Neovascular glaucoma is a difficult disease to treat. One option is laser surgery to shrink abnormal blood vessels in the iris and retinal surface. Recent studies have also shown some success with the use of drainage implants.

Protect your eyes

Since eye complications are common with diabetes, it is very important for people with diabetes to have their eyes examined regularly. The National Eye Institute recommends that people with diabetes have a fundus exam at least once a year.

Special thanks to Dr. Jorge Alvarado , professor of ophthalmology, Department of Ophthalmology, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, for contributing to this article.