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April 18, 2000


Question from Virginia, USA:

I am 18 and have had type 1 diabetes for a year. I've had severe nearsightedness since I was ten, and nearsightedness runs in my family. A month after diagnosis, my ophthalmologist said I had cataracts on both lenses. Five months after that I got severe diabetic cataracts on both lenses for which I had lens replacement surgery. My A1c has been decreasing to 8.3, and I've no diabetic retinopathy. Do I have an increased risk of retinopathy if I had diabetic cataracts within a few months of diagnosis (and considering my young age?


To develop cataracts for someone with type 1 diabetes is related to damage to the lens of the eye by hypo- or hyperglycemic events. This would be a true diabetic cataract.

To develop retinopathy is a result of long term hyperglycemia. If you had already had retinopathy prior to cataract surgery you would be at risk of having a progression in your retinopathy as a result of the surgery not because you had a cataract.

Since your cataract developed in the early stage of diabetes, 6 months after diagnosis, you should have minimal to no increase in risk of retinopathy as a result.