Review Article

A review of glycaemic changes on vision in phakic, aphakic and pseudophakic people with diabetes

Lindokuhle Majola, Alvin J. Munsamy
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a509 | DOI: | © 2020 Lindokuhle Majola, Alvin J. Munsamy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 May 2019 | Published: 21 January 2020

About the author(s)

Lindokuhle Majola, Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Alvin J. Munsamy, Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: One of the leading causes of preventable blindness is cataract affecting approximately 18 million people worldwide. Twenty per cent of cataract operations worldwide are performed on people with diabetes mellitus (PDM).

Aim: The aim of this review article is to analyse the scientific literature relating to visual changes associated with diabetes mellitus (DM) in pseudophakic, aphakic and phakic people, and to discuss the consequences of these changes for optometrists.

Method: A literature search was conducted on PubMed, the University of KwaZulu-Natal Libraries and Google Scholar databases from August 2017 to August 2018.

Results: Acute and chronic hyperglycaemia in DM causes myopia in phakic PDM, whilst in aphakic PDM it causes a hyperopic shift in refraction. It has been reported that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity are affected by changes in blood glucose. People with DM have increased central corneal thickness as compared to non-diabetics, whilst only the posterior corneal curvature is affected by hyperglycaemia in PDM. No evidence exists on the effects of glycaemic changes in pseudophakes.

Conclusion: It should be noted that high blood glucose level (BGL) induces transient myopia and hyperopia in chronic phakic PDM and aphakic PDM, respectively. All refractive procedures, including prescription of spectacles, corneal refractive procedures and lens extraction, should be deferred until normalisation of BGL in phakic and pseudophakic PDM, as higher sugar levels affect corneal curvature and thickness and overall vision.


hyperglycaemia; people living with diabetes mellitus; phakic; aphakic; pseudophakic; vision; refractive error; visual acuity; contrast sensitivity; corneal curvature; corneal thickness


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