Diabetes Eye Complications – Common Diseases

Disorders of the eye occur due to infections, allergic reactions, fatigue, injury, and as repercussions of chronic or acute conditions. In fact, at one stage or the other, every person faces some eye disorder.
Constantly staring at the computer screen, driving for long periods, working at nighttime and others cause strain to the eye. Exposure to dust, and having a red eye due to infection is also common. However, people who have diabetic eye problems have long term consequences that can cause vision loss.
Conditions like diabetic macular edema, diabetic cataract, and diabetic retinopathy are complications of diabetes. Hypertensive retinopathy, and microaneurysms are complications of high blood pressure. Many chronic conditions affect the health of the eye if they are not managed properly.
Blockage of the blood vessels of the retina called an eye stroke is the consequence of high cholesterol and high blood pressure that is not managed properly.
In this section, we shall discuss some common disease conditions of the eye and precautions needed to prevent them.

Diseases of the Sclera:
The sclera is the white portion of the eye that contains numerous nerves and blood vessels. It is opaque and is covered by the Tenon’s capsule and bulbar conjunctiva. It consists of three layers, which are prone to inflammation.
The sclera is prone to infections, distortion, pigmented abnormalities, tumors, vascular problems, degeneration, and many other conditions. Here is a list of conditions that affect the sclera.

Episcleritis (superficial):
This can be simple and nodular and is caused due to allergy and infection. It is an inflammatory condition that is characterized with redness of the eye, pain, and a warm feeling in the eye. There can be pain even in the conjunctiva and crisscrossing pattern of blood vessels. It is generally treated with eye drops (steroidal). In nodular episcleritis, anti-inflammatory medications and oral steroids might be prescribed. Episcleritis usually takes around 10 days to three weeks to resolve.

Scleritis:
This condition is the inflammation of the sclera and is more severe when compared to episcleritis. The onset of scleritis can be sudden with severe pain and is even known to cause loss of vision. In episcleritis, the superficial tissue is damaged, but in scleritis a large part of the sclera is damaged. This condition can be caused due to underlying conditions like inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue disease, and many others. It is even known to be caused due to bacterial and viral infections, trauma, and exposure to chemicals. This condition is characterized by inflamed Pinguecula, photophobia, severe pain, redness, and decreased visual acuity. When scleral tissue is damaged it is called necrotizing scleritis. Scleritis can occur in the front or the rear part of the sclera. Treatment for this condition includes prescription of NSAIDs, antibiotics, corticosteroids, immune modulating agents, and anti-TNF agents; however, these are prescribed depending upon the underlying conditions.

Staphylomas:
This comes under the distortive disorders of the sclera. A staphyloma is a condition in which there is an outward bulge of the sclera that is caused due to localized weakness and thinning. A staphyloma can be in the rear (posterior), central (equatorial), in the front (anterior), ciliary, and intercalary part of the sclera. It can occur due to inflammation, retinal detachment, glaucoma, injury, pathological myopia, or perforation of a corneal ulcer. This condition is characterized by a marked weakening of the walls of the eye, and high intraocular pressure. Treatment involves invasive procedures like staphylectomy.
Pigment Abnormalities of the Sclera:
Having a bluish tinge to the sclera is called a blue sclera. This condition occurs in infants. This might be due to hereditary ocular diseases. In other cases, it can be caused due to the thinning of the tissue of the sclera making the underlying veins to show. This is a characteristic of Marfan’s syndrome. Melatonic pigmentation of the sclera might be a sign of an underlying eye disease or a malignant condition.

Metabolic complications to the Sclera:
Many metabolic disorders of the body can affect the sclera of the eye. They can lead to conditions like episcleritis and scleritis. A common form of this is the deposition of bilirubin in the sclera leading to yellow-colored sclera in cases of jaundice. Impaired fat metabolism leads to fat and cholesterol deposits in the sclera. This leads to conditions like Pinguecula and xanthelasma. People with gout might have uric acid deposits in the sclera. Other complications lead to deposition of cystine. When it comes to the relation between diabetes and eyes, as the tenure of diabetes increases, one of the many diabetic eye problems is scleral stiffening.

How to Prevent Eye Diseases:
Since people with diabetes are more prone infections than non-diabetics, it is important to maintain hygiene and take certain precautions.
• Always use an alcohol-based sanitizer after using the toilet and before eating.
• Do not rub or touch your eyes.
• Wear safety eyeglasses.
• If you use contact lenses, maintain them safely with proper hygiene.
• Wash your hands after you touch door knobs, handles, and others in public areas.
• Avoid touching people with eye infections.
• Do not use the same bedding linen or towels of the infected person.
• Maintain your target blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
• If you have any other underlying condition, try to maintain the targets prescribed by your doctors.
In the next section, know more about the diseases of the extraocular muscles and the conjunctiva with precautions!