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March 2, 2001

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Havre de Grace, Maryland, USA:

My eight year old daughter recently saw an ophthalmologist yesterday who detected a microaneurysm in the macular area of her left eye. He suspects that she may have diabetes, but she has never exhibited symptoms of diabetes. She is scheduled for testing to see if she has diabetes. Could the microaneurysm be caused by something else? What is the likelihood that she does have diabetes?


From: DTeam Staff

The short answer is yes. Microaneurysms can be a sign of other conditions, but, as a rule, they are considered to be the first eye sign in diabetes. It is the retinal sign that is looked for when other retinal lesions co-exist that leads us to the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.

What is unusual is that typically one would have had diabetes for a few years before this lesion became apparent, and, for an eight year old to have had undiagnosed type 1 diabetes long enough for this to manifest is very unlikely. It is also unusual (although is becoming more common) for an eight year old to have type 2 diabetes.

Her scheduled testing will answer some of these questions. If she test negative for diabetes, her pediatric ophthalmologist will surely look into other possible causes.