Diabetes is a serious and complex illness which impacts much more than the eyes. Diabetes UK have put out figures showing that every week there are 1,400 cases of heart failure and 540 strokes caused by diabetes. People with diabetes are 50% more likely to suffer a heart attack.
The key to preventing diabetic eye disease is to ensure early diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. It is then important to have regular eye screening to reduce the risk of serious complications. Optometrists have an important part to play as they can help people get an early diagnosis. An eye test can detect many underlying health conditions and diabetes is one of these.
It is common to live with type 2 diabetes for a long time before being aware of the condition. 19% of those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes already have changes in their retina and the start of diabetic eye disease. High levels of glucose can lead to damage to the retina causing retinopathy.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing fast. It is essential for everyone to have regular sight tests to look after their vision. It can also pick up other health conditions such as high blood pressure.
Anyone with diabetes is entitled to a free NHS sight test. If you have type 2 diabetes you should have an eye test at least once a year. You might even need more frequent screenings depending on how serious the damage to your retina is. At the sight test you’ll be asked to read some letters from a chart. Drops are then put in your eyes. The drops will make your eyesight blurry after around 15 minutes. When the drops have worked you will be asked to look into a special camera and pictures will be taken of the back of your eyes. It does not hurt and will be over and done with very quickly. After the eye test you will need to be driven home as your eyesight will remain blurry for some time.
Diabetic eye disease includes conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema, cataracts and glaucoma. Each form of diabetic eye disease has the potential to cause vision loss and blindness. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by retinal blood vessels changing and beginning to bleed or leak fluid. This then distorts the vision. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness amongst working age adults. Diabetic macular oedema is the swelling in the macula caused by diabetic retinopathy.
Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by staying physically active, eating a healthy diet and by taking prescribed medication regularly.
If you would like to arrange an eye test at home, because of reduced mobility or problems getting to your regular optician, please give us a call now on 0203 418 8488 or book a home visit with us.