Controlling Sweets, Improving Eyesight

Blindness is a Result of Diabetic Macular Edema

Mark Mandelcorn, MD, FRCS(C)
Vitreo-retinal Surgeon
Toronto Western Hospital 

It is astonishing that in the year 2000, nearly 80 years after the discovery of insulin, diabetes became the most common cause of blindness in North America. Everyone who looks after diabetics, therefore, has an important role to play in helping these patients reduce their risk of suffering the microvascular and macrovascular complications arising from diabetes. Recent clinical trials have once again confirmed the link between good blood sugar control and the reduced incidence of complications, such as blindness. Consequently, it is accepted that the first goal of treatment is optimum control not only of blood sugar but of other supervening problems, like hypertension, that may aggravate any existing complication, particularly diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is said to occur in over 90% of type 1 diabetics (characterized by juvenile onset and insulin-dependence) and in a slightly lower percentage of type 2 diabetics (characterized by late onset and lack of insulin dependence). However, only about 25% of patients with diabetic retinopathy develop visual loss and only about 5% become blind.