Approximately 1.7 million Australians are estimated to be living with diabetes, and with an additional 280 people developing diabetes every day, this figure is estimated to grow to 2.45 million by 2030! What does this have to do with our eyes?
Diabetes can lead to changes to our eyes. The fluctuations of the blood sugar levels that occur in diabetes can then lead to fluctuations to our vision day-to-day i.e. some days when the blood sugar levels are high, vision might not be so clear and vice versa. More permanent changes to our eyes can take the form of diabetic retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy increases with the length of time you have been diagnosed with diabetes. If blood sugar levels are not well controlled this will also increase the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy can develop regardless of which type of diabetes you have, and your age.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
If you notice any changes in your vision contact your doctor. Some examples of symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
Blurred, distorted or patchy vision that can’t be corrected with prescription glasses
Problems with balance, reading, watching television and recognising people
Being overly sensitive to glare
Difficulty seeing at night.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy there may be no symptoms and the disease may not be diagnosed until it is advanced.
How can I reduce my risk?
Good blood glucose levels and blood pressure, and annual comprehensive eye examinations can greatly reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy but it does not eliminate it.
The highly qualified optometrists at Eyecare Network can perform diabetic eye check and co-manage your diabetes with your family doctor.
What happens if the optometrist detects diabetic retinopathy?
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is dependent on the severity or stage of the disease. If the damage is detected before it has affected your sight, treatment can prevent vision loss. Where vision loss has already occurred, treatment can only stop it from getting worse.
At Eyecare Network, we make sure we communicate with your doctor, to keep them updated with our findings, reports are sent to your GP so we can collaborate together so that we are giving you the best possible patient care.
If you have any questions about how best Eyecare Network can assist with your current diabetes health plan, do not hesitate in calling our friendly staff on (02) 9728 7288 or by visiting us in store.