How diabetes affect your eyes? | Dr Frikkie Hartog

How diabetes affect your eyes

Diabetes causes blindness and this is mostly preventable with early treatment.

Diabetes affects the blood vessels at the back of the eye on the retina. The retina is the membrane at the back of the eye that permits vision and it contains a large amount of blood vessels. The blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to the very sensitive visual sensors that transform the light entering the eye into a visual stimulus that can be analyzed by the brain. Diabetes leads to obstructions and leakage in these blood vessels resulting in permanent damage to the retina and irreversible loss of vision. These changes mostly start in the periphery and only affects central vision later when it has progressed quite significantly. For this reason when patients present with symptoms of poor vision the disease is sometimes very difficult to treat. On the other hand the central vision can be affected at any stage in the disease causing hazy central vision due to swelling of the macula responsible for your central sharp vision.

The two most important risk factors for developing eye complications is the duration of treatment and the glucose control. Since you do not have any control over the duration of your treatment, it is very important to manage the glucose levels as accurate as possible in order to delay not only the eye complications of diabetes, but also other complications for instance problems with the kidneys and feet.

Diabetic patients should have their eyes evaluated when they are diagnosed with diabetes, and then yearly thereafter. The main aim of the examinations are to recognize disease before it affects a patients’ central vision and treat it prophylactically, thereby preserving the essential fine central vision. It is also very important for diabetic patients to present to an eye doctor as soon as possible if they notice a problem in their central vision, since early treatment will prevent permanent damage and loss of vision. Patients will usually complain of a haziness in their central vision (looking at a person they will see the person but his face will seem morphed) with a waviness of straight lines.

The treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the area affected by the disease. If the periphery is affected, argon laser treatment is used to treat the affected area and preserve central vision. If on the other hand central vision is affected, laser treatment is usually not the ideal treatment, but intra-vitreal treatment with medications like Avastin is indicated.

It is very important to recognize that diabetes is a chronic condition with life and vision threatening complications. Glucose control and early treatment of any complications are essential in preserving vision.

Dr. Frikkie Hartog

Dr. Frikkie Hartog is an ophthalmic surgeon specializing in cataract and laser refractive surgery. The aim of all types of refractive surgery is to rid a patient of his spectacle or contact lens dependence. Dr Frikkie Hartog has a special interest in affording his patients the best possible results using the latest and safest technology. It is also essential to balance the increasing cost of these technologies with the financial expectation of your patients. Dr.Frikkie Hartog studied at the University of Stellenbosch and acquired his MMed Opth as well as FC Ophth degree in 2004. He has been performing cataract surgery since 2000 and laser surgery since 2005, and he has an excellent safety and success record. Frequent attendance of not only local but also overseas specialist congresses forms part of a continued learning interest. Dr. Frikkie Hartog is an avid cyclist and loves reading and spending time with his family.