The Spectator

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy hero image

Having diabetes can affect your vision if left untreated or mismanaged. High blood sugar levels can cause complications leading to diabetic retinopathy.

Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness if undiagnosed and untreated.

It can take several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach the stage where it can affect your sight. There are steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of this such as controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol, and attending diabetic eye screening appointments when advised.

The retina converts light into electrical signals which are sent to the brain and turned into the images that we see. The retina needs a constant supply of blood to continue working effectively. Persistent levels of high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels leading to the retina, causing visual problems. There are 3 main stages that this damage can occur:

  • Background retinopathy – small bulges develop within the blood vessels and may bleed slightly. This does not usually affect vision.
  • Pre-proliferative retinopathy – changes to the blood vessels are more widespread and severe, including more bleeding into the eye.
  • Proliferative retinopathy – scar tissue and new blood vessels develop on the retina. These blood vessels are weak and bleed easily which can result in some vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy does not have any symptoms in the early stages, much like glaucoma. Should you develop symptoms you may experience a deterioration in vision, sudden vision loss, floaters, blurry vision, or eye pain. Early signs of the condition can be identified at a diabetic eye screening.

Attending regular diabetic eye screening appointments is important. The screening involved photographing and examining the back of the eye to detect and monitor and problems with your eyes before your vision is affected. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can help and reduce vision loss.

Should you be concerned about your vision contact your local Eye Place today and speak to an eyecare professional.