In a person with diabetes, the fluctuating sugar levels can cause kidney problems, damage to nerve endings and also change the small blood vessels in the retina of the eyes. Diabetic Retinopathy is the name we give to this change of the blood vessels in the eyes. This change can initially develop without any symptoms or loss of vision, although it can ultimately lead to blindness meaning that early and timely treatment is crucial.
Having diabetes does not necessarily mean that your sight will be affected, but it does mean that there is a naturally higher risk. If your diabetes is well controlled then you are less likely to have problems, or they may be less serious.
In Kent, the Paula Carr Trust screens all diabetics for diabetic retinopathy by taking a photograph of the retina. However, in some instances such as where the patient has cataracts, the photographs that they are able to take may not be clear enough to allow a good assessment. It is important that these patients are still screened and so are often referred to Brownbills where many of our Optometrists are accredited to perform full a Diabetic Retinopathy examination, using alternative techniques to examine and access the eye health.
A leaflet, containing more information about diabetic retinopathy is available from the practice.
FACT FILE: Blood vessels bring oxygen and nourishment to the retina and severe changes to these will affect the health of the retina, causing possible damage to sight.