If you suffer from diabetes, then you are especially vulnerable to some eye-related conditions and complications. In particular, you have increased likelihood of developing cataracts and you are at risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to the cells of the retina at the back of your eye. The condition will worsen without appropriate treatment or management and can ultimately lead to blindness.
The NHS operates a diabetic screening programme, so it is important that you attend your regular medical check ups if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Any steps you take to manage your diabetes effectively (blood sugar levels, exercise, weight, etc.) will help to control and limit the severity of eye-related complications, or at least to slow the rate of progression..
Undiagnosed diabetic retinopathy can often be spotted by your optician during routine eye checks. So it is very important – especially as you get older and if you have risk factors for diabetes – to get your eyes checked regularly, and at least every two years. We always recommend opting for a retinal photograph to be taken during the check where that service is available.
Some of our opticians provide specialised services for diabetes-related eye conditions.
Mild diabetic retinopathy may not require any treatment so long as you maintain good control over your risk factors – including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.
In more severe cases, the normal treatment is laser surgery. This cannot restore parts of your sight that have been lost due to damage on your retina. But it can be effective in blocking further deterioration.