Diabetic Eye Disease (Diabetic Retinopathy)


If you have diabetes there is a 1 in 3 chance that the condition has already caused some changes to your eyes.  There is about a 1 in 9 chance that your sight is at risk of serious damage.  To avoid eye problems associated with diabetes, you need to be diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
Those most at risk of diabetic retinopathy are:

 › People who have had diabetes for many years

 › Those whose diabetes is poorly controlled and who have high blood sugar levels

 › Diabetics with high blood pressure, particularly if they also have kidney damage

 › Pregnant women with diabetes

Both high blood pressure and pregnancy can make diabetic retinopathy progress faster than usual.


How does Diabetes affect the eye?

Diabetes causes the levels of sugar in the blood to rise, while treatment for diabetes aims to bring levels under control again. This means that there are likely to be some fluctuations in blood sugar levels for a time, particularly when you first start treatment. These fluctuations can affect the tissues of the eye and can cause fluid to pass into the lens, making it swell and become thicker. A thicker lens can only focus on things close-by, so you become short-sighted.  The problem may come and go, but if it persists for more than a month, you should be re-examined by your doctor.


What damage can Diabetes cause?

Cataracts are more common in older people, but ithey can develop quicker and at a younger age in people with diabetes. A cataract results in the lens of the eye becoming cloudy and this makes your sight deteriorate.  Cataracts can generally be treated successfully with cataract surgery.
Diabetic Retinopathy occurs when diabetes damages the very fine blood vessels in the retina, resulting in vision problems. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.  To prevent diabetic retinopathy, the most important things are to keep your blood sugar levels under control and have your eyes checked regularly.   


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