The Eyes Have It.
August 11, 2008 3:36 PM   Subscribe

Why do diabetics intermittently get little swaths of redness at the outside corners of the eye?

I've had this happen sometimes (I haven't related it to sugars yet, I'll do more logging), and I've known two other Type I diabetics who exhibit this.
posted by BrotherCaine to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you define this a bit more? Do you mean on the eyeball itself? I sometimes get streaks of redness/bloodshot going from the iris to the corners of my eyes, but as far as I know I'm not diabetic.

posted by adamdschneider at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2008

I get that when my allergies flare up. I am not diabetic.
posted by padraigin at 4:19 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Doesn't sound like you have a very large sample size. How have you confirmed that this happens less often to non-diabetics?
posted by winston at 4:54 PM on August 11, 2008

Winston makes a point, but I'd say it's probably due to the increased capillary fragility seen in type I diabetics.

The scleral tissue right at the corners of your eyes and extending laterally spends less time being pressed on by the eyelids, and that lack of overpressure allows more blood to leak out of the fragile capillaries, resulting in a band of redness.

Googling led me to believe there was some interest among physicians in monitoring the level of this fragility in their diabetic patients (a tourniquet test was mentioned), so perhaps you could nominate fthe appearance of these bands to your doctor as an alternate way of keeping track of the development of this problem.
posted by jamjam at 6:00 PM on August 11, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry, I lost some detail while editing for readability. What I'm describing is a red patch on the skin just outside of the outside corner of the eye. It's a triangle that borders the upper lid and kind of points towards the temples. I've only seen it happen to Type I diabetics, but that may be confirmation bias.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2008

Hmm. I'm type 1, and for that matter just got back from a JDRF bike ride where I saw many other type 1s, and, uh, I've never noticed this on anyone. Just a data point.

But I guess if this is related to capillary fragility in relatively uncontrolled diabetes, as jamjam's link suggests, then maybe it's just to be found there. Interesting.
posted by chinston at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dang. You did that to me on purpose, didn't you BrotherCaine?

Emerson be damned! Just shift my explanation to the left and right half an inch or so and replace lack of pressure from the eyelids with flexing of the capillaries from blinking and crinkling to make the capillaries leak.
posted by jamjam at 6:28 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The marks are slightly red, like chafing or very mild inflamation (not welted) and do not resemble the Purpura or Petechiae which appear to be the symptoms of capillary fragility. Really good guess though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:52 PM on August 11, 2008

Best answer: candida albicans will routinely colonize small fissures or areas of skin to skin contact, with much higher frequncy in diabetics (yeast like sugar). Those areas look red and inflamed. Not sure if that's what you are seeing, but it sounds like you are describing the lateral canthus of the eyes where these fissures can occur.
posted by docpops at 8:55 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I think it's the skin just outside the lateral canthus, but I don't have a good diagram. It basically overlaps the area where crow's feet form when squinting.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:13 PM on August 11, 2008

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