Diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to produce sufficient or efficiently use insulin which is necessary to break down sugar in the blood. Diabetes affects the structural integrity of blood vessels throughout the body, including the eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy or eye diabetes is characterised by bleeding, deposits, swelling and new blood vessels in the retina which can cause vision loss.
People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to experience vision loss than people without diabetes. The longer you have diabetes the more at risk you are of developing diabetic retinopathy. On average one in three people with diabetes will develop diabetic retinopathy. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels is a risk factor.
Although vision changes may be an indication of diabetes, like many other eye diseases, you may not know you have diabetic retinopathy until it’s too late. This is why it is so important to have annual eye checks if you have diabetes. Our optometrists will complete a comprehensive eye examination every year and a dilated eye examination at least every second year to help your doctors ensure the diabetes is being adequately controlled. We can physically see the blood vessels inside your eyes and dilating eye drops make your pupils larger so we can see more inside your eyes. When we do a dilated eye examination we will usually take photos of your eyes to allow easier detection of slight changes or any development of diabetes. We will provide your doctor with a report and refer you to an ophthalmologist should you require further treatment for diabetes in your eyes.