Refractive changes in diabetic patients during intensive glycaemic control

Br J Ophthalmol. 2000 Oct;84(10):1097-102. doi: 10.1136/bjo.84.10.1097.


Aims: To evaluate the clinical course and the characteristics of transient refractive error occurring during intensive glycaemic control of severe hyperglycaemia.

Methods: 28 eyes of patients with persistent diabetes were included in this prospective study. During the observation period, patients underwent general ophthalmological examination and A-mode scan ultrasonography was performed at each examination-at days 1, 3, and 7, and then once every week or every other week until recovery of hyperopia.

Results: A transient hyperopic change occurred in all patients receiving improved control after hyperglycaemia. Hyperopic change developed a mean of 3.4 (SD 2. 0) days after the onset of treatment, and reached a peak at 10.3 (6. 1) days, where the maximum hyperopic change in an eye was 1.47 (0. 87) D (range 0.50-3.75 D). Recovery of the previous refraction occurred between 14 and 84 days after the initial assessment. There was a positive correlation between the magnitude of the maximum hyperopic change and (1) the plasma glucose concentration on admission (p<0.01), (2) the HbA(1c) level on admission (p<0.005), (3) the daily rate of plasma glucose reduction over the first 7 days of treatment (p<0.001), (4) the number of days required for hyperopia to reach its peak (p<0.001), and (5) the number of days required for the development and resolution of hyperopic changes (p<0.0001). There was a negative correlation between the maximum hyperopic change of an eye and baseline value of refraction (p<0.01). During transient hyperopia, no significant changes were observed in the radius of the anterior corneal curvature, axial length, lens thickness, or depth of anterior chamber.

Conclusions: The degree of transient hyperopia associated with rapid correction of hyperglycaemia is highly dependent on the rate of reduction of the plasma glucose level. A reduction of refractive index in intraocular tissues, especially in lens, appears to be responsible for this hyperopic change.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Hyperglycemia / therapy*
  • Hyperopia / blood
  • Hyperopia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Refraction, Ocular


  • Blood Glucose