Eye disease is a major risk for people living with diabetes. We round up all the facts you need to keep bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
- Of the eye complications associated with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy is the most common, but cataracts and glaucoma are also possibly serious consequences of poorly controlled diabetes.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a condition affecting the retina (the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye) and is caused by damage to the blood vessels. People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes need to be on the look-out, and the longer a person has been living with diabetes, the greater the risk.
- Leaking or irregular blood vessels and swelling of the retina are early symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. A thorough eye exam at least once a year with an eye specialist will identify any warning signs early.
- A typical eye exam is painless and usually involves viewing a chart to check your eyesight at a distance, testing the pressure inside the eye, and having drops placed in your eyes to widen the pupils and inspect the interior of the eye.
- Glaucoma is caused by the excessive pressure of fluid inside the eye and leads to optic nerve damage. Diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
- Extra caution and additional eye exams are necessary for pregnant woman with diabetes.
- If you experience any changes in your vision, contact your doctor immediately.
- Some symptoms to be on the alert for are: bad vision in dim lighting, blind spots, double vision or floating spots, blurry vision, pain in the eyes or headaches, and poor peripheral vision.
- Eye disease can often progress without any symptoms, so be sure to keep appointments with your eye care specialist and prevent complications by managing your blood sugar and blood pressure levels carefully.
- Have your blood pressure checked at least twice a year – a blood pressure of under 130/80 is safest for people with diabetes.