The literature suggests that diabetic patients may have altered tear chemistry and tear secretion as well as structural and functional changes to the corneal epithelium, endothelium and nerves. These factors, together with a reported increased incidence of corneal infection, suggest that diabetic patients may be particularly susceptible to developing ocular complications during contact lens wear. Reports of contact lens-induced complications in diabetic patients do exist, although a number of these reports concern patients with advanced diabetic eye disease using lenses on an extended wear basis. Over the past decade or so, there have been published studies documenting the response of the diabetic eye to more modern contact lens modalities. The results of these studies suggest that contact lenses can be a viable mode of refractive correction for diabetic patients. Furthermore, new research suggests that the measurement of tear glucose concentration could, in future, be used to monitor metabolic control non-invasively in diabetic patients. This could be carried out using contact lenses manufactured from hydrogel polymers embedded with glucose-sensing agents or nanoscale digital electronic technology. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on the anterior ocular manifestations of diabetes, particularly that pertaining to contact lens wear.
© 2012 The Authors. Clinical and Experimental Optometry © 2012 Optometrists Association Australia.