Diabetes is a general medical disorder which can have signs and symptoms in the eye. Diabetes can cause retinal changes including leaky blood vessels, hemorrhage, and new blood vessel formation. This can lead to retinal swelling, decreased vision, and scarring. Tight blood sugar control lessens these changes. In addition, annual eye exams are essential to rule out diabetic retinal findings. Treatment may include retinal laser procedures and vitrectomy - a removal of the jelly - like substance in the eye.
Hypertension may be reflected in a patient's retinal exam. These findings may include hardening of the arteries, artero-venous crossing changes, hemorrhage, or cotton-wool spots (areas of poor blood perfusion to retinal nerve fiber). Findings of hypertension can alert the ophthalmologist that a patient's blood pressure may not be adequately controlled.
Thyroid Disease is an overactive thyroid gland, Grave's disease, can cause multiple eye findings. Grave's disease typically causes inflammation to the muscles behind the eye in the orbit. This causes a protrusion of the eye called exophthalmos. This “over-exposure” of the eye can lead to dryness, redness, corneal breakdown, and double vision. Treatment is geared to lubricating the eye, addressing the over-active thyroid, correcting double vision, and, in extreme cases, decompressing the orbit to lessen the degree of exophthalmos.
Glaucoma is a medical condition of the eye where too high an intraocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. If not treated, one loses peripheral vision and can eventually go blind. However, treatments are available to lower one's eye pressure to prevent loss of vision. These include eye drops, laser, and surgical filter procedures. Unfortunately, glaucoma usually does not create any symptoms early in the disease process.