Diabetes and Cataracts

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This blog has been contributed by Dr. Luisa Sastre, Consultant Ophthalmologist in Medical retina and cataract surgery.

Cataracts, a common eye condition characterised by clouding of the lens, can affect individuals of all ages. However, people with diabetes are particularly susceptible to developing this condition. In this blog, we will explore the connection between them, understand the underlying mechanisms, and discuss the treatment of cataracts in diabetics.

The connection: Diabetes, a metabolic disorder affecting blood sugar regulation, increases the risk of complications, including eye-related issues such as diabetic retinopathy. Cataracts occur when proteins in the lens clump together, causing clouding and reduced vision. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age and experience faster progression than those without diabetes.

Mechanisms Behind Cataract Formation in Diabetes: Diabetes can cause cataracts by increasing sugar levels in the body. This can lead to imbalances and changes in the lens structure, making it less transparent. Diabetes can also cause damage to lens proteins, which makes cataracts form faster.

Managing the Risks of Cataracts in Diabetes: Effective management of cataract risks in individuals with diabetes is crucial. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels through proper diabetes management helps slow cataract progression. In addition, regular eye examinations are essential for early cataract detection. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a diet rich in antioxidants, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking, can also reduce the risk of cataracts.

Cataract treatment options for people with diabetes: Surgery is the most effective treatment for cataracts. The procedure involves removing and replacing the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). People with diabetes must work closely with their doctors to ensure stable blood sugar levels before, during, and after surgery, minimising the risk of complications and optimising visual outcomes.

Understanding the connection between those two conditions and managing the associated risks is crucial for maintaining good eye health. Individuals can effectively navigate this coexisting condition by controlling blood sugar levels, regular eye check-ups, and considering cataract surgery when necessary.