I have diabetic retinopathy. I have had it for two years now. At the same time I was diagnosed, I was also told that I have peripheral cataracts. Luckily they don't damage my eyes like the retinopathy. I feel fortunate that so far I haven't been told that I have glaucoma. I dread it every time I go to the ophthalmologist. I don't know what is in store for me on my visit to the eye doctor.
A cataract is clouding or fogging of the normally clear lens of the eye. The lens allows us to see and focus on an image just like a camera. Light enters through the clear lens and reaches the back of the eyes. But when a cataract is present it forms a cloudy or frosted glass-like layer over the eye through which light cannot pass through.
Being a diabetic increases the chance of developing cataracts at some point in life. Diabetic patients with cataracts cannot focus on light and their vision is impaired. In diabetics with cataracts, when light enters in through the cloudy lens it scatters in different directions creating blurred or misty sight, double vision, and colors will become much duller. The thicker or cloudier the eye becomes with cataracts, the worse eyesight one will have.
Some people develop cataracts faster than others. Cataracts could get worse over a period of months or years. Causes of cataracts include:
1. older age
5. usage of high amounts of steroids
Cataracts do not have to come to both eyes at one time. Most people get it in one eye first.
When a person has cataracts:
1. He or she might have difficulty reading. Use of large print books for reading is better than normal print. Magnifying glasses and good light (focused from behind the shoulder in an angle) are useful tips.
2. He or she will find it difficult to drive at night. Headlights of oncoming traffic are hard on the eyes. He or she will find the sunlight to be bothersome. Using dark glasses and a hat is better when in sunlight.
People with or without diabetes will eventually need to go through a surgical procedure to remove cataracts. It is usually safe to remove cataracts with surgical intervention in a diabetic, unless they also have retinopathy like me. In case a patient has diabetic retinopathy, a laser treatment is needed for the retinopathy to stabilize it first in order to remove cataracts later with surgery.
Risks for diabetics going through cataract removal include:
1. macular edema- fluid collection in the back and middle of the eye
2. blurry vision if patient has retinopathy
For patients with retinopathy, they are also given topical non-steroids a week before the cataract surgery. Post surgery, six weeks of steroid drops is prescribed in order to avoid infection. The risk of infection is always there for diabetic patients when they go through cataract surgery. One to two visits to the doctor, a new pair of glasses, and medicated eye drops are also prescribed post surgery. Surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis under local anesthetics (diabeticretinopathy.org.uk)
A diet with lowered animal fat and salt is recommended for patients with diabetes going through cataract surgery. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20-74. Keeping blood sugar levels between 90 - 130 mg/dl before meals and < 180 mg/dl post meals is strongly recommended in order to avoid any complications with diabetes, whether it is in the eyes or any other part of the body because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.