Do you suffer from Diabetes? Then you really must take care of your eyes. Diabetes can harm your eyes and can increase your chances of having various eye ailments. Here’s all you need to know about caring for your eyes if you have diabetes.
This is the most common eye disease that is caused as a side effect of diabetes. It occurs when blood vessels in the retina change; sometimes they may swell and leak fluid, or they may close off completely. At other times, new blood vessels may abnormally grow on the surface of the retina. The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your eye. Light rays strike the retina and get transmitted to the brain to be interpreted as the images that you see. Diabetic retinopathy therefore affects your ability to see. In fact, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults.
Diabetic retinopathy strikes in stages, beginning with non-proliferative or the early stage. Apart from blood and fluids leaking onto the retina, sometimes deposits of cholesterol and other fats may also leak into the retina. Macular oedema or swelling and thickening of the macula (the oval-shaped spot at the centre of the retina) can also occur. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is characterised by closure of the blood vessels in the retina and abnormal new blood vessels being sprouted. These new blood vessels can bleed into the vitreous (the gel in the centre of the eye), causing vitreous haemorrhage, increasing pressure in the eye and eventually glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve and blindness.
Eye Care Measures
Fortunately, you can prevent some of these problems by taking proper care of yourself and your eyes. Here are some tips:
- Control your blood sugar levels, as high sugar levels increase your risk of having eye problems.
- Keep your blood pressure under check. High blood pressure by itself can cause eye problems, and when combined with diabetes, it is a double whammy.
- Keep a check on your blood cholesterol levels.
- Avoid smoking.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Avoid certain strenuous exercises like weightlifting and high-impact sports such as football and hockey.
Regular Eye Tests
The most important tip is, of course, seeing your optician regularly and taking an eye test. There are specialised eye tests for diabetics, which include dilation of eyes (to get a good view of the retina) and special photographs of the retina. Since diabetic retinopathy manifests its symptoms on the retina, it is best to get these tests done regularly. Your optician will also check for signs of cataracts and glaucoma. An eye test is the easiest way of detecting eye problems and your optician can recommend further steps – both corrective and preventive.
At Leightons Opticians, you will find fully qualified and trained opticians who will conduct an in-depth consultation and a comprehensive eye test, which can last up to 30 minutes. You may also be entitled to a free NHS eye examination, so ask your optician about it. You can book an eye test at Leightons Opticians online or call us on 0800 40 20 20 to speak to us about your eye care needs.