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12.11.2021
Swiss Medical Network

Diabetes and ophthalmic care

While commemorating World Diabetes Day on 14 November and celebrating the centenary of the discovery of insulin, it is important to discuss the correlation between diabetes and eyesight. 

Diabetes has a harmful effect on various organs in the human body, including the eye.

It can lead to a range of complications, such as cataracts, muscle damage leading to partial paralysis, but in particular damage to the retina (retinopathy) and the macula (maculopathy).

Diabetic retinopathy involves gradual damage to the small blood vessels of the retina, which can lead to macular oedema, blockage of the blood vessels, or the growth of new blood vessels within the eye.

 

What are the warning signs?

The symptoms of retinopathy only start to appear as the condition progresses.

Key things to look out for are:

  • Problems with near vision;
  • Glares;
  • Diplopia (also known as double vision);
  • Problems in distinguishing colours;
  • Visual issues that are worse at night and that affect driving.

Retinopathy affects around 40% of diabetics, and can result in a significant reduction in eyesight or even blindness.

With this in mind, even if you are not noticing any problems, it is crucial to have your eyesight screened by an ophthalmologist.

Screening and prevention:
Currently, the best way to prevent or slow the progress of this condition is by managing your blood sugar level.

The ophthalmologist can help you by screening for any signs of retinal damage and complications caused by diabetes, as well as providing regular follow-ups.

Treatments:
Managing diabetes and aggravating factors (arterial hypertension, high cholesterol and sleep apnoea) are the best ways to treat complications.

Depending on the extent of the damage, there are a number of treatments that may be suggested, such as laser surgery or, in more serious cases, a vitrectomy. 

Another option is anti-VEGF injections, which are made to the part at the back of the eye, known as “the vitreous”.

In all cases, screening and treatment for diabetes requires a multidisciplinary medical team, including an endocrinologist, an ophthalmologist, a nephrologist and the treating doctor.

Our speakers

Swiss Visio

PD Dr med Aude Ambresin

Specialisation
Ophthalmology, Eye surgery, Retinal and macular diseases, Cataracts, Eye inflammation View more

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