Diabetes can affect the eye in several ways. However, Diabetic Retinopathy is the most serious and most common diabetic eye disease. Careful control of diabetes, such as managing blood glucose, blood pressure, blood lipids, and modifying lifestyle risk factors such as diet, weight and smoking can delay the onset or sometimes even reverse the progression of Diabetic Retinopathy.
Over time, high blood glucose levels damage the small, specialised blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye. The vessels become weaker and may leak fluid and/or become blocked. This early stage is called non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. This stage does not normally affect vision. This stage requires regular follow-up every 3 to 12 months depending on severity. Intermediate to severe cases should be seen by an Ophthalmologist. Drug treatment may also be offered to slow disease progression.
The following symtoms could be due to Diabetic Retinopathy, and should always be checked:
Dark spots or holes in the visual field
Blurred, distorted, dim or double vision
Difficulty seeing at night, or increased sensitivity to lights and glare
Frequent changes in glasses prescription
Bright haloes around lights
Flashes and large "floaters"
The longer you have had diabetes, the greater the risk of getting retinopathy. Therefore it is critical to have regular eye tests, even if tests have always been clear in the past. If you have diabetes, have a comprehensive eye exam a least every two years. Manage your diabetes with the guidance of your GP or diabetes specialist.