Diabetes is a leading cause of preventable blindness in the adult population.
Diabetes can cause damage to the Retina (the light sensitive lining of the eye at the back of the eye). This damage is called Diabetic Retinopathy.
Early signs of diabetic retinopathy are quite common amongst those with diabetes. They are often minor and non-sight threatening but do require regular monitoring. Special attention needs to be given to blood sugar levels and treatment of other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Diabetes causes the walls of the retinal blood vessels to weaken allowing them to bulge (microaneurysms) or bleed (dot haemorrhages). Fluids (oedema) and fats (hard exudates) can also leak from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissue. If this occurs at the macula (most sensitive part of eye) it is called macular oedema and vision will be reduced.
In some cases progression occurs to a more severe form of the disease called Proliferative Retinopathy. If left untreated 50% of those affected will suffer serious visual loss (neovascularisation [new blood vessels] which can lead to scar tissue that can lead to a retinal detachment) and need prompt medical treatment.
Your optometrist can provide a comprehensive eye examination that includes a detailed view of the retina. Digital photographs of the eye are also taken. Sometimes drops are needed to improve the view of the eye, these drops may temporarily blur your vision so sunglasses and a support driver are advised.
Your doctor can also give you information about wider diabetic care from practitioners such as optometrists, ophthalmologists, diabetic specialists or diabetic screening and monitoring services available in the area and can arrange referral to these.
Diabetes - what can be done?
Remember - prevention is better than cure!
- Ensure good control of blood sugar levels
- Timely treatment of medical conditions such as high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol
- Ensure regular eye examinations (more frequent eye examinations if pregnant as there is a greater risk of progression.)
- Report any rapid change in vision
If you think you may have any symptoms of Diabetes or are concerned about the condition of your eyes or eyesight, please contact us today to make an appointment for an eye examination.