Eye care

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults in North America
  • Eye conditions are 25x more common among people with diabetes than the general population
  • 15 to 20% of all work disability related to diabetes results from visual impairment.
  • The eye conditions most commonly associated with diabetes are:

Diabetic retinopathy

  • Poorly controlled diabetes is the highest risk factor
  • What is diabetic retinopathy?
    • The retina is the light detecting tissue layer lining on the inner surface of the eye. Blood
      vessels bring nutrients this tissue. In diabetic retinopathy, individuals with high blood
      sugar causes these blood vessels to become leaky and prone to bursting (aneurysms).
      This results in scarring of the retina and the formation of more leaky blood vessels.
    • If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy leads to irreversible damage to the eye and visual impairment
    • Controlling your diabetes and blood pressure by working with your healthcare team is important to preventing diabetic retinopathy and preserving your vision


  • Cataracts is the leading cause of reversible blindness in North America
  • The number of cases of cataracts in Antigua & Barbuda is likely to increase sharply given the rate of diabetes and hypertension
  • Diabetics are at higher risk for developing cataracts than the general population
What are cataracts?
  • The lens is a transparent structure which helps to focus the images that you see on the retina. Cataracts is the whitening or opacification of the lens. High blood sugar causes alterations in in the lens that encourage this process. Cataracts results worsening near- sightedness and image blurriness.
The most common treatment of cataracts is surgery
  • Glaucoma is an important cause of preventable blindness which is closely associated with diabetes
What is glaucoma?
  • The optical nerve is the nerve that transmit visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is the build up fluid pressure in the eye to the point that the optical nerve is damaged. In diabetics, this increase in pressure is the result of glucose build up in the fluid of the eye. The presence of glucose leads to greater fluid retention inside the eye than normal and the extra fluid exerts force (or pressure) on the walls of inner walls of the eye and the optic nerve.
    There are often no obvious symptoms associated with glaucoma in the early stages. Individuals often do not notice any change in their vision until their symptoms are quite severe
Regular eye exams are important for all diabetics
  • Treatment of glaucoma can be pursued in several ways depending on the severity of the case:
    • Medications to control diabetes and hypertension
    • Medications (pills or eye drops) to directly control glaucoma
    • Trabeculoplasty- a laser procedure which helps to drain fluid from the eye and decrease pressure.
    • Trabeculectomy- a surgical procedure where the ophthalmologist creates a small opening in the white of the eye (called the sclera) with a thin trap door called a bleb to allow excess fluid to escape.
Taking care of your eyes
Barbados Eye Studies
  • In a population-based study of individuals from the island of Barbados it was found that 60% of all cases of blindness resulted from cataracts or glaucoma
Excellent resources
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology - https://www.aao.org/
  • Barbados Eye Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11146731
  • Canadian Ophthalmological Society- http://www.cos-sco.ca/vision- health-information/conditions- disorders-treatments/
  • National Eye Institute- https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts

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