Diabetes Mellitus is a systemic disease in which the body either does not produce enough insulin, (TYPE I) or does not respond appropriately to the insulin that it does produce (TYPE II).  As a result, the blood sugar (glucose) level becomes too high.

The categorization system for diabetes, and in fact, the our understanding of diabetes, has changed considerably over the years. Diabetes can appear virtually from birth or as a juvenile (Type I), emerge in adulthood (Type II), appear transiently in pregnancy (Gestational), be caused by medications (e.g., steroids), occur as the consequence of surgery, etc.


Regardless, when a person experiences high glucose levels for extended periods, changes in multiple organ systems in the body may occur.  These may initially be reversible, but often, with extended exposure to high blood glucose levels, these changes may result in permanent changes.  Among these are changes in the eyes. 


Diabetes can effect virtually every aspect of the ocular structures. These changes can be acute and short-lived, or gradual and progressive.

Early identification and address of these complications can help in their management, but the best defense is early and attentive control of the blood glucose levels, along with healthy diet and exercise.

This article is devoted to retinal manifestations of diabetes mellitus. A brief outline of some of the salient ophthalmic manifestations of diabetes follows, but is not intended to be comprehensive.