What Are Your Best Cataract Treatment Options If You’re Diabetic?

If you've spent years living with diabetes, you're already well aware of the importance of taking good care of your eyes. Developing cataracts--or a cloudy film over the lens of your eye that can impact your vision and overall visual health--can be more than an annoyance for those with diabetes; it can signify a serious risk to your vision. Read on to learn more about how cataracts can interact with diabetes and which cataracts treatment options have the best chances of long-term success. 

How does having diabetes impact your cataract treatment decision?

Diabetes can often lead to problems with the eyes for several reasons. One relates to fluid retention; frequent spikes and dips in blood sugar can cause you to retain water, which can increase the pressure in your eyes and sometimes even change the shape of your eyes over time. This is the same sort of rise in intraocular pressure as often occurs with glaucoma. This can make it tough to perform cataract surgery, as using a laser to remove or replace the damaged lens can put your vision at risk if the surface of your eye is uneven or if pressure changes take place during surgery.

In addition to increasing the pressure behind your eyes, diabetes can damage the tiny capillaries responsible for transporting blood from your veins to the cells in your eye. This can cause slow healing, which can impact your decision to seek surgery.  

What are your best cataract treatment options?

Although you may be taken aback by the increased risks of cataract surgery as a diabetic, it's important to seek prompt treatment once you've begun developing cataracts. Early diagnosis and treatment is far more likely to yield a successful outcome compared to waiting until you've already sustained vision damage, and also provides your ophthalmologist with far more options than are available if your cataracts have had years to develop.

In most cases, your cataracts can be removed during a fairly simple outpatient surgery. During this surgery, a fine laser beam will pierce the outer surface of your eye lens, folding the lens back to remove the cataract. Depending upon the size of the cataract and the amount of your lens it covers, your surgeon may either return your original lens back to its proper place or remove the lens and implant an artificial one in its place. Your artificial lens is less likely to develop cataracts in the future, but can often require a lengthier healing time; you'll want to talk to your doctor to ensure you have all the information on the pros and cons of both approaches before you make a decision.