DIABETES AND YOUR EYESIGHT
We all need to monitor changes in our eyesight, but for people with diabetes, attention to detail is imperative. Here’s how diabetes can affect vision and what you can do to ensure long-term eye health if you’re diabetic.
Right now, diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic illness. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes affect over 1 million Australians, with the total number of diagnosed and undiagnosed Australians with diabetes and pre-diabetes estimated at 3.2 million. These are staggering figures, but the good news is that there is plenty of help on offer for those who are affected.
One area that does require extra attention for diabetes sufferers is ocular health. The effects of diabetes are such that many sufferers experience changes to their vision as a result of changes to blood supply to the eyes. Regular eye examinations can help to detect the development of cataract, but also they can detect early diabetic retinopathy changes which can ultimately minimise impact to vision if managed appropriately following detection.
The total number of diagnosed and undiagnosed Australians with diabetes and pre-diabetes estimated at 3.2 million.
WHAT IS DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels begin to damage the fine blood vessels of the retina, resulting in blockage, blood leakage, swelling and inflammation, all of which can affect vision. It happens in two stages: Non-Proliferative, which is when vision is not permanently lost, and Proliferative Retinopathy, which is far more serious and can lead to the permanent vision loss and even blindness. Both require early detection and treatment, so ensure you keep your eye health in check.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy vary from person to person, but may include:
- Blurred vision;
- Floaters or spots;
- Blank or missing areas in vision;
- Double vision;
- Difficulty seeing well at night;
- Problems with balance, reading, watching television and recognising people; and
- Being overly sensitive to glare.
If you have any of these symptoms, regardless of whether or not you have diabetes, you should have an eye examination as soon as possible.