One in 15 people in the UK have diabetes — including one million people with Type 2 who have yet to be diagnosed. Diabetes can be managed in the long-term. But left untreated it can cause serious damage to the body, including the eyes.
Diabetes affects vision because of high blood sugar levels. Take the retina, for example. The light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye, the retina sense signals to the brain which then produces the images you see. The retina requires a constant supply of blood; over time, a high blood sugar level can damage the blood vessels that supply the retina. This condition is called retinopathy — and people with diabetes are at a much higher risk of getting it.
High blood sugar can lead to other conditions that affect the eye including cataracts and glaucoma. If you suffer from diabetes you’re twice as likely to get cataracts — which is when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Meanwhile glaucoma — a build up of fluid in the eye — is 1.5 more common in people with diabetes. Managing blood sugars coupled with regular eye examinations are both key to preventing or delaying these conditions.
Those with diabetes are offered eye screening as an essential part of their checks — and everyone 12 years and older with the condition should have their eyes examined annually. As retinopathy is symptomless in its initial stages, screening is vital to ensure early detection and minimise damage.
In the UK, more than 1700 people have their sight severely affected by diabetes every year. Screening, covered by the NHS, can take place at a hospital or at some Opticians including your local Pinder’s.
To chat to our team about screening, or if you have any concerns, contact your local Pinder's.