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Do Diabetics Have Dry Eyes?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Diabetes is associated with a number of ocular complications that can lead to blindness. 47%-67% of diabetic patients develop primary corneal lesions during their lifetime. Persistant dry eye complaints from diabetic individuals indicate a clear role of tear film abnormalities.

Dry eye complaints are associated with both type1 and type2 diabetes. When compared to healthy control groups, a number of studies now show decreased tear film break up time (TBUT), lower Schirmer's test values, increased nitric oxide (NO) concentrations from oxidative stress, squamous metaplasia and goblet cell loss on the ocular surface of the diabetic eye.

Higher levels of nitric oxide are found in the aqueous humour of diabetic patients inducing inflammatory reactions that cause retinopathies, as well as ocular surface cell damage. Dry eye complaints and the disorders of tear film quantity and quality seem relevant to the stages of diabetic retinopathy.

Ellen Troyer, MT MA - Biosyntrx Chief Research Officer
Spencer Thornton, MD - Biosyntrx President


Should all diabetic patients with poor metabolic control be examined for tear film and ocular surface changes? The study above strongly suggests that orally administered antioxidant supplements decrease tear film nitric oxide levels, thereby improving tear film stability, tear secretion, and overall ocular surface health of the diabetic patient.


Changes of tear film and ocular surface in diabetes mellitus. Yoon KC, Im SK, Seo MS. Korean J Ophthalmol. 2004 Dec;18(2):168-74 [ abstract]

Tear film function of patients with type 2 diabetes. Li HY, Pang GX, Xu ZZ. Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao, 2004 Dec;26(6):682-6 [ abstract]

Risk factors for ocular surface disorders in patients with diabetes mellitus. Lzdemir M, Buyukbese MA, et al. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2003 Mar;59 (3);195-9 [ abstract]

Protective role of oral antioxidant supplementation in ocular surface of diabetic patients. Peponis V, Papathanasiou M, et al. British Journal of Ophthalmology 2002;86:1369-1373 [ abstract]