Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is the most common form of diabetes mellitus in the pediatric population, with an estimated 500,000 children living with T1DM and an estimated 80,000 new cases each year in the United States. Ophthalmologic complications of diabetes are common in adult patients and those with longstanding disease, but can also be seen in patients with a recent diagnosis, even among the pediatric population.
We present the case of a 13-year-old girl with recently diagnosed T1DM who presented to the pediatric emergency department with acute onset of bilateral blurry vision due to cataract formation. Prompt recognition of the condition and ophthalmologic consultation allowed for timely diagnosis and restorative surgery.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
We present this case to increase awareness among emergency physicians of the potential for cataract formation in pediatric patients with T1DM, as well as the fact that it may be the first presenting sign of the disease. Furthermore, emergency physicians should be aware that pediatric patients who present with severe T1DM, either with extremely high hemoglobin A1c or glycemic blood levels, are at increased risk for cataract formation and should be evaluated for subtle signs of cataract formation even in the absence of obvious cataracts. We also discuss the pathophysiologic theories of cataract formation in patients with T1DM.
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Published online: March 31, 2020
Accepted: February 16, 2020
Received in revised form: January 31, 2020
Received: July 1, 2019
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