Eye conditions may predict onset of diabetes after heart attack

There are eye conditions that people with cardiovascular diseases may start to develop diabetes after they have heart attack. These eye conditions may be predictive of eye conditions that may develop late in life, according to a study by a visiting nurse researcher at HRT.

“We know that people who have heart attacks or diabetic peripheral neuropathy start developing diabetes because they come into contact with the blood and organs of cardiac patients,” said Susan W. Saunders, MD, who works at the Henry Ford Health System Visitor Center at Henry Ford Hospital. “However, in this study we found that age-related macular degeneration or diabetic peripheral neuropathy in patients with cardiac diseases were predictive of this later, even years after the onset of heart attack.”

For the study, Saunders’ team examined enrollment data from an Italian Protoplasmic inpatients who were treated since 2002 at Henry Ford Health System Visitor Center, a center operated by HRT, General Hospital, HRT, in collaboration with Italian Cured, Astellas and Nestec. Of the 450 questioned patients, 462 (28.2 percent) were found to have diabetic peripheral neuropathy by the end of the study. Of the group, 494 were found to have diabetic peripheral neuropathy by the end of the study. The majority of the patients were African American, Hispanic, and were treated for more than 12 years. Of the patients, 99 developed diabetic peripheral neuropathy after heart attack and 209 developed it without triggering symptoms.

“We are working to integrate these data to understand the impact diabetes-related genes may have, although this is not a definitive answer,” said Saunders. “This study is one of the few to examine the impact of eye conditions that have a direct impact on these patients, yet are not curable. Eyelid dryness with accumulation of calcium in the cornea, light sensitivity, and dry eyes are among those implicated in peripheral neuropathy in the study. We also analyzed diabetic macular degeneration or diabetic peripheral neuropathy (defining the differing forms) through a micro-OCT machine that is custom built using only the patient’s own cells.”

The eye around the occipital ridge is unique in a number of ways, Saunders explained. Many of the fibrotic disease organisms succumb to retinitis pigmentosa, she said. When the lesion goes away, people may develop progressive retinal degeneration, and the angle of the eye becomes progressively narrower, she said.

“It’s not a straightforward process,” she said. “The loss of peripheral vision is not often obvious, and people know that it sometimes occurs and then it progresses over time and the permanent effect can be seen. Changes in ocular lifestyle can be quite difficult especially if it’s not apparent.”

People frequently get some of these eye diseases, and the early symptoms are similar to those of diabetes, she said.

The eye may be a vital organ that monitors glucose levels and regulates urine and insulin levels, Saunders said. As people regularly become diabetic, their ocular adaptation to diabetes is also a part of being able to appreciate subtle changes in the ocular perspective that are the result of metabolic changes. Unfortunately, people don’t understand that one aspect of losing peripheral vision also leads to peripheral eye injuries like diabetic peripheral neuropathy that occur when there is an attack that results in bleeding or brain hemorrhage, she said. There is no cure for the inflammatory eye diseases associated with diabetes, but there is a curable treatment for one eye disease: surgical removal of the corneal stroma and reconstruction of what is called “cataract” using modern structural and surgical enhancements.