Diabetes and How it Affects Your Eyes
With one in 25 people in the UK affected by diabetes, we explore the complications of the condition and how it can affect your vision.
There are two kinds of diabetes, type 1 and type 2:
Type 1 diabetes – Usually, people under 30 are much more likely to suffer from this type of diabetes. If your body is producing little to no insulin, then insulin injections are required to keep a balance within the body.
Type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes affects those at the age of 40 and onward, and is diagnosed when your body starts producing little or limited insulin, preventing your body to use what is being produced. Changes in your diet, medication, and exercise will help control the insulin levels in the body.
How can diabetes affect eyesight?
Diabetes affecting the retina
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease linked to diabetes where damage has been done to the retina; the layer at the back of the eye, resulting in vision problems.
Retinopathy can be mild or it can be severe, depending on how long you leave it until you get your eyes seen to/or leave your diabetes uncontrolled.
Diabetic retinopathy can worsen as your diabetes develops. Blood vessels that are connected to your eye will either block or begin to leak, inevitably affecting your vision.
- 40% of people with type 1 diabetes will find themselves with a form of diabetic retinopathy.
- 20% of people with type 2 diabetes will also find themselves with the condition.
Diabetes affecting the macula
The yellow oval shape, which surrounds the retina, is called a macula. Symptoms like blurry vision; difficulty in recognizing faces and reading could be a sign of maculopathy.
In other cases, a condition called Diabetic Macular Oedema (DMO) can also be a worry as fluid will begin to gather in the macula.
Laser treatments are available for macula based conditions and could help restore or prevent sight loss.
How to reduce your risk of sight loss
The more controlled your diabetes is, the safer your eyes will be. However, there are still ways of preventing vision issues:
- Making sure your blood levels are controlled
- Checking and controlling your cholesterol
- Exercising and keeping fit
- Maintaining a balanced diet
- Cutting down on the smoking or quitting altogether
- Making sure your eyes get screened regularly
If you’ve had diabetes for a long time, then there is a bigger chance of developing eye conditions, which can then lead to sight loss. So making sure you have regular screenings is vital. The quicker they are diagnosed, the easier it will be to detect any disease.