What is diabetic Eye Disease (Diabetic Retinopathy)?
Diabetes can affect the blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the retina of the eye. The retina is the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of our eye. The abnormal changes in the retinal blood vessels, known as Diabetic Retinopathy, may lead to bleeding or scarring in the retina and stop light rays reaching part of the back of the eye. This would result in blurred vision and, if left untreated, to blindness. Blurred vision at diagnosis or after significant changes in blood glucose control is generally temporary, and mostly due to diabetes affecting the lens inside the eye. It is advisable not to buy or change glasses for 8-10 weeks after starting or changing treatment. If you are concerned about your vision, please discuss it with your doctor.
What are the risk factors for Retinopathy?
- High blood glucose levels
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
What can you do to prevent/ minimize the progression of Diabetic Retinopathy?
- Good blood glucose control (HbA1c <48 mmol/mol; old <7%)
- Good control of blood pressure (less than 140/80)
Your Diabetes Care Team can help you manage this and address issues of diet, exercise and weight reduction. They will help you manage self-adjustment of insulin and advise on changes needed to diabetes and blood pressure, and stop smoking.
You will be offered an annual eye exam, where photographs of the retina will be taken. with annual eye check-ups, particularly advised for patients with diabetes over 40 years of age, Diabetic Retinopathy can be caught early and treated. Delayed diagnosis and uncontrolled diabetes could lead to a total loss of eyesight.