Diabetes can affect all of your body including your eyes. Poorly controlled blood sugars in people with diabetes can cause early irreversible vision loss so if you have diabetes it is very important to have your eyes checked regularly for signs of diabetic eye disease.
The high sugars in your blood causes the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye to leak and to cause damage to the delicate tissue at the back of the eye, the Retina, which is essential to good eyesight. This damage can also cause tiny fragile blood vessels to grow which in turn can bleed and cause further damage to the retina. This process is called Diabetic Retinopathy. Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy is available through the national diabetes screening programme.
Another complication which cannot be detected through screening is Diabetic Macular Oedema (DME). This is caused by the leaking of fluid from blood vessels into the area called the Macula at the back of the eye. The macula is essential for good clear central vision and any damage to the macula can be sight threatening.
Diabetes can also cause other vision complications such as
•Fluctuations on your vision even when wearing your glasses
If you experience any problems with your vision and you have diabetes, you should attend your optometrist for regular eye examinations, at least every two years. You should also attend screenings with the National Diabetic Screening Programme. If you feel your vision has deteriorated or changed even since your last visit with your optometrist, you should get your eyes checked again. Sometimes if your blood sugars are unstable, your diabetes is poorly controlled or you are newly diagnosed with diabetes, your vision may be at risk or vision problems due to diabetes.
Vision loss due to diabetic eye disease is now the leading cause of blindness in the working-age population. Help to protect your eyes by keeping your blood sugars controlled, eat healthily, take your medications and get exercise. More information on healthy eating for people with diabetes is available on the website www.eyeamwhatIeat.ie
Regular eye examination with your optometrist is essential to keeping your eyes healthy when you have diabetes. Your optometrist will check all the aspects of your vision including your retina and macula for signs of diabetic eye disease. However, you should also attend the National Diabetic Screening programme to be screened for diabetic retinopathy if you are called to do so.