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Diabetes and Your Eyesight

Diabetes affects a huge number of people both in South Africa and across the globe, and it’s a condition that can affect your eyesight permanently. Recent campaigns on World Diabetes Day have highlighted the importance of looking after your eyes if you are diabetic, as diabetic eye disease is a common affliction.

Diabetic screening can go a long way to determining if a person has diabetes or is potentially developing it, and a regular eye test can also illustrate if there are any issues that could arise. Interestingly enough, one of the first signs of diabetes is blurred vision, so if you’re experiencing this and have ruled out digital eyestrain or the need for stronger glasses or contacts, you could be at risk.

Important Facts for Diabetics

Diabetics may not be able to prevent eye damage in its entirety and background retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy are both very commonly occurring. However there are ways to reduce the risks and to prevent your vision from deteriorating further, if it has already started to do so. Surgery is an option; as are eye drops and injections, and diabetics need to ensure they keep their blood sugar stable at all times to minimise potential issues.

Diabetics must be aware that:

  • Diabetes can badly damage your sight
  • There are several measures that can be taken to reduce damage
  • There are several measures that can be taken to halt existing damage
  • Diabetes damage must be detected early for treatment to be successful
  • Retinal screening is essential for diabetics

Diabetes has been a leading cause of blindness in many first world countries, and in 3rd world countries the statistics are even higher. What’s worrying is that diabetes eye damage is often referred to as a silent disease as a sufferer may not realise that they are affected and not seek help. It’s for this reason that diabetics should have an eye test at least once a year and immediately consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist should they notice any changes in their vision.

In addition to blurriness there are several other changes in vision that diabetics should be aware of:

  • Trouble reading or focusing
  • Starting to see double
  • One or both eyes growing sore and tired easily
  • Spots or floaters appearing in vision
  • Reduction in peripheral vision

A Diabetes Eye Check

Checking for diabetic eye disease is relatively simple and involves the back of the retinas being examined or photographed. Sophisticated equipment makes this much easier and its only takes a few minutes for an eye specialist to assess the situation.

The eye test you undergo to check your vision and see whether you require glasses or contact lenses is not the same as a diabetes eye check, so do not discount the one if you have had the other. Checking your vision only involves looking at the front of your eye, whereas diabetes eye tests involve assessing both front and back for a clear view.

With the number of diabetics soaring, checking for diabetes is essential, and not only can an eye test pick up whether or not you are susceptible to the disease, it can also determine whether you are suffering from other health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.