With Diabetes Awareness Week upon us, now is the perfect moment to discuss how diabetes affects eyesight. The short answer is that it can cause a number of eye conditions, although not everyone with diabetes will develop one.
We cannot stress enough how vital it is for those with diabetes to have regular eye examinations because, when caught early, these conditions can be effectively managed.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
This is the most serious eye condition caused by diabetes. It’s a condition that causes tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye to block and leak.
Background Diabetic Retinopathy is the least serious type and does not threaten eyesight, but it needs regular monitoring to ensure it does not progress. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is the next step, where blood vessels become blocked. The body reacts by growing more blood vessels. However, they tend to be weak and leak easily, which affects vision. Finally, when Retinopathy affects the central retina (macula), it results in Diabetic Maculopathy, whereby central vision becomes increasingly blurred.
How else can diabetes affect vision?
Blurred Vision – changes in blood sugar levels can affect the lens in the eye causing variable levels of blurred vision.
Cataracts – this clouding of the eye’s lens is more likely in people with diabetes, who can develop the condition earlier in life. See our guide to cataracts.
Glaucoma – diabetes can also make sufferers more likely to develop glaucoma, a condition that damages the retina. See our guide to glaucoma.
Can you reduce the risks?
Absolutely! If you have diabetes then taking the following steps will help reduce the risk of you developing retinopathy and other eye conditions.
- Control blood sugar levels
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Stop smoking
- Keep fit and maintain a healthy weight
The Three Golden Rules
If you have diabetes, then these golden rules are a must to maintain your vision.
- Always attend your annual diabetic eye screening
- Have regular Expert Eye Examinations
- If you notice changes in your vision, tell your optometrist
Remember, our optometrists are trained to spot the early signs of eye disease, which is the key to maintaining the best possible eye health. To make an appointment, find your nearest Eye Academy here or book online today.