Diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels due to insufficient insulin production or the body’s insufficient response to the insulin produced.
Over time, high blood glucose levels can impact many parts of the body, including the eyes.
Children and adolescents with diabetes are significantly more likely to suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES) than their non-diabetic peers.
While many people mistakenly believe that DES is harmless, moderate to severe dry eye symptoms that go untreated can result in corneal abrasions and ulcers, and even permanent vision loss.
Dry eyes are of special concern to diabetics, who also have a higher risk of developing potentially sight-threatening eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. For this reason, the sooner dry eye syndrome is treated, the better.
If your eyes feel dry, gritty, itchy or irritated, you could have dry eye syndrome. The sooner your eye doctor diagnoses DES, the sooner you can begin treatment to relieve your symptoms.
How Does Diabetes Contribute to Dry Eye in Children and Adolescents?
Children and adolescents with diabetes are significantly more likely to suffer from DES for several reasons:
- Reduced corneal sensitivity:
The body produces tears in response to messages received from the cornea. However, this reflex tear production is disturbed when the nerves in the cornea are damaged and become less sensitive. If the eyes don’t realize that they’re dry, or if there’s a grain of sand in the eye, it will produce fewer tears.
- Prolonged course of diabetes medications:
Having diabetes from a younger age and being treated with diabetes medication can, over time, damage the lacrimal glands that provide the watery component of tears.
- Reduced tear production:
High blood sugar causes nerve damage to the glands producing the essential components of the tears. This results in decreased tear production or reduced tear quality, and eventually chronic dry eye symptoms.
The good news is that diabetics who are able to achieve good control over their blood sugar levels experience fewer of the complications that can cause or exacerbate dry eye syndrome.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes Are Key
At ProOptix Eye Care we assist in treating dry eye syndrome in both children and adolescents with diabetes. Contact ProOptix Eye Care in Houston today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.