Diabetes, Lens Swelling and Vision

Posted April 2011

By Dr. Phillip L. Carney, Jr.

Dr. Phillip L. Carney, Jr.

Blood sugar changes in the body from the presence of diabetes can cause a shift in a person’s visual prescription.  Many times, this shift is temporary.  If so, once blood sugar levels are normalized, the prescription returns to normal.  It is always a red flag to the eye doctor when they see persons (especially those over 30) suddenly experience a significant change in their prescription.  One common observation is that they see better without their glasses than with them.  Other times, someone may find their vision fluctuates from day to day.  These comments always put blood sugar levels into question.

The reason for the shift in prescription is when blood sugar levels are elevated, it causes a swelling in the crystalline lens of the eye.  The lens is naturally flexible and can change shape to focus the eyes.  This swelling can cause changes in vision or refractive error of the eye.  Once the swelling is reduced by normalizing blood sugar levels, vision usually returns to its original state.  However, elevated blood sugar associated with diabetes, if not treated, can have more damaging, irreversible effects on other parts of the eye.

Dr. Carney is available for all your eye care needs by appointment at Welch/Wallace Laser Center by calling (318) 448-0221.

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