Can diabetes affect your eyes?

In honour of World Diabetes Day this month, we want to raise awareness around the question: how can diabetes affect your eyes?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin or when the body does not produce enough insulin.

Over time, this life-long condition can damage your eyes, potentially causing vision loss or blindness. A common eye disease caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy.

What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious eye disease that is one of the leading causes of sight loss and blindness in working adults. It’s caused when high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels in your eye, which provide blood supply to the retina at the back of the eye, which is what helps you to see.

When a blood vessel in your eye gets damaged, it can leak, get blocked, or cause abnormal blood vessels to grow instead, which essentially stops you from being able to see clearly. If left untreated, it can cause eventual sight loss.

Signs of diabetic retinopathy

Early onset of diabetic retinopathy usually doesn’t have noticeable symptoms. Once the condition has advanced, some symptoms you might experience which mean you should contact our optometrists straight away to be seen include:

  • blurry vision
  • difficult seeing colours
  • darkened vision – as if you’re wearing a pair of sunglasses
  • floaters (spots in your vision)
  • trouble seeing in the dark
  • vision that continues to deteriorate slowly
  • eye pain
  • redness
  • sudden vision loss
  • dark or empty areas in your vision

Can an eye test detect diabetes?

Having annual eye exams if you have diabetes or if it runs in your family, is the best way to maintain good eye health and keep track of it.

In addition to a comprehensive eye exam, our 3D OCT scan offers advanced retinal imaging to help us detect and diagnose diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, before you notice any changes yourself.

Quick, non-invasive, and similar to having an ultrasound for your eye, the 3D scan gives us a detailed view of your retina at the back of your eye, showing each tissue layer, so we can pinpoint exactly where the problem is with unparalleled accuracy at least 5 years before a standard eye exam could have picked it up.

The scan results are instant and can be stored in your patient record, so we can continue to compare results to monitor any changes over time.

Other ways to decrease your risk factors of diabetic retinopathy include staying physically active, quitting smoking, and adopting a healthy diet to keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels within their target range.

Book your eye exam

If you have any questions about diabetes or if it’s been a while since your last eye exam, please get in touch or book an appointment for an eye exam or an OCT enhanced eye exam online at our opticians in Belper for peace of mind today.