Diabetes is an increasingly common condition, particularly in developed areas such as the United Kingdom. According to Diabetes UK, since 1996 the number of individuals diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased from 1.4 to 2.6 million, and that number is expected to reach 4 million by 2025.
As with any other segment of the population, many diabetics have refractive errors that they may wish to correct using laser eye surgery. That being said, given their conditions, are diabetics suitable for laser eye surgery?
The answer is quite often yes. Individuals with both type I and type II diabetes are typically suitable for laser eye surgery as long as their conditions, particularly their blood glucose levels and their refractive errors, are stable. Diabetics suffering from advanced diabetic retinopathy, diabetic maculopathy, ischaemia, or macular edema, however, are unsuitable.
Diabetics may also be suitable for intraocular lens treatment, though this decision must be left to the discretion of the optometrist.
The bottom line is that many diabetics can absolutely benefit from laser eye surgery, but it is particularly important for them to be thoroughly screened during their consultation prior to treatment to ensure that they do not have any eye diseases or conditions that may compromise the results of the procedure. If you have diabetes and are considering laser eye surgery, there is nothing to lose in attending a consultation, and there is a very good chance that you will in fact be suitable. If not suitable, you will have had a very thorough examination of the health of your eyes.
One other important note is that it is particularly important for those with diabetes to attend regular eye tests with an experienced optometrist who can thoroughly assess the health of your eyes. Diabetic retinopathy, which is referenced above, refers to damage to the retina which occurs as a complication of diabetes, and can eventually lead to a reduction in the level of vision achievable. The risk of suffering from this complication increases with the length of time that you have diabetes, with the majority of diabetics experiencing some degree of retinopathy over twenty years with the disease. Early diagnoses and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can significantly help slow and stop the damage, so it is critical to schedule annual eye examinations, even if you do not notice any problems with your vision.