Diabetic Eye Disease – Diabetic Retinopathy:
Diabetes can cause changes/damage to occur at the back of the eye in the retina. These changes/damage are known as diabetic retinopathy. The risk of developing retinopathy increases with the length of time you have had diabetes. The risk is also increased when there is poor control of blood sugar levels. As diabetic retinopathy develops, blood vessels at the back of the eye leak and if left untreated a person could lose their sight altogether. These changes/damage may be seen by your optometrist before you ever notice any symptoms yourself. Early intervention is essential to avoid visual loss.
Whilst not all those with Diabetes will develop Diabetic Eye Disease, it is essential to have regular eye tests to examine behind your eye even if you feel your eyesight is “fine and clear”. Your optometrist will put some drops in your eyes to “dilate” them, which makes the pupil larger and allows a more detailed examination of the back of your eye.
The best way to attempt to avoid developing diabetic eye disease is to maintain blood sugar levels at advised by your doctor and attend for regular check-ups. It is also recommended that you see your optometrist at least annually for a dilated eye examination.
Diabetic retinopathy can often be treated with a laser, which helps to stop leakage from the blood vessels at the back of the eye. Regular eye examinations and good control of blood sugar levels should help reduce the likelihood of this treatment being necessary.
Diabetes related eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss in adults of working age (20-65) in industrialised countries. 5.4% of females and 4% of males in the Republic of Ireland have been diagnosed as having diabetes. 74% of those who have diabetes for over 10 years will develop diabetic eye disease.
For more information – Diabetes Association of Ireland