Food for Thought

Why you need to keep an eye on your eyesight if you have diabetes
Our sight is something most of us fear losing the most. Protecting it is one of the most important things we can do to help maintain quality and enjoyment of life. And for anyone with diabetes, it’s vital to be vigilant because there’s a higher risk for glaucoma, cataracts (‘clouding’ of the eye’s lens) and diabetic retinopathy.

The good news is that in most cases the serious visual loss that can be part and parcel of diabetes can be prevented with regular eye examinations and treatment – the earlier the better.

It’s estimated that about 75% of people with diabetes in Australia will develop diabetic retinopathy. The risk is greater for those who have had diabetes for a long time or if their blood glucose isn’t well controlled. Signs and symptoms include blurred vision, floaters and spots, blank or missing areas of vision, double vision and difficulty seeing well at night. Often there are no signs or symptoms until the condition is quite advanced.

There are two stages. Background or non-proliferative retinopathy is when the weaker blood vessels begin to leak. At this stage there may be no noticeable change in vision, but without treatment it can progress to the more serious proliferative retinopathy where the retina grows new (and weaker) blood vessels that can bleed onto the retina or the vitreous (the jelly like centre of your eye). At this stage vision can be affected suddenly and seriously.

Eye examination

5 tips for protecting your eyesight
By taking these steps to protect your vision, you’ll also improve your diabetes management. Now that's a win-win situation.