Ask the Optician – What is the connection between diabetes and eye sight?

What is the connection between diabetes and eye sight

THERE are 422 million diabetes sufferers worldwide and this number is increasing fast. Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of blindness and partial sight, so we wanted to deal with this important issue.

Q: How can diabetes affect my eyes?

A: Diabetes affects the small blood vessels and capillaries of the body. The walls of these vessels can develop small bulges (micro-aneurysms) and become ‘leaky’. Diabetic changes can occur in the blood vessels at the back of the eye, when diabetes results in these changes, it is referred to as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes can also have other ocular pathological effects including cataracts and retinal detachments.  Severe changes, if left untreated, can result in blindness.

Q: How can these changes be identified?

A: A symptom of diabetic retinopathy developing is blurry vision which can often come and go throughout the day, if you experience this issue get an eye test right away. Haemorrhages (blood leaking out of the vessels) and leaking fluid (oedema) can sometimes be detected by an eye examination.

Q: How can I reduce my risk of suffering vision loss?

A: Control your diabetes well to minimise the risks.

Q: Can the damage be treated?

A: The sooner the problem is identified, the easier it can be treated, however even if it has progressed often the affected vessels can be cauterised by laser to reduce the damage.

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