Diabetes and Vision Loss: Get Clued Up

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Did you know that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness in the UK?

3.9 million Brits are living with diabetes, putting them at high risk of developing vision-threatening conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.  If diagnosed early the onset of these conditions can be prevented, but if left untreated they can cause severe damage to your eyes.

Diabetic eye disease symptoms can permanently harm your retina, macular, lens, and optic nerve, leading to vision loss and even blindness.  However, the earliest signs of these conditions are often unnoticeable until they’ve already damaged your vision.  As the disease develops you might start to notice blurred eyesight, double vision, flashing lights, floating spots, strained peripheral vision, or internal pressure in your eye.  However, the only way to prevent the onset of these symptoms is to detect them before it’s too late through your annual comprehensive eye examination.

This is why Optix UK is marking World Diabetes Awareness Day to educate our patients about the possible effects of diabetes on your visual health, to advise on preventative measures and to raise awareness about the importance of eye examinations for your visual health – whether you have type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes.

Many health experts warn that diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions across the globe.  In Britain alone, the number of people suffering from diabetes has doubled since 1996, and an additional 700 people are diagnosed with the disease every day.  Diabetes Awareness Day was formed by the World Health Organisation and IDF in 1991 to force diabetes onto the scientific and political agenda, and its message is now spread throughout 160 countries.

At Optix UK we’re passionate about protecting your vision, so this November we’re on a mission to raise awareness about diabetic eye disease symptoms to help prevent and treat those at risk of contracting these conditions.

So what diabetic eye diseases should you be aware of?

Diabetic Retinopathy is where high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in your retina.  This can lead to some of the vessels rupturing and leaking into your eye, causing distorted vision.

Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) often results from diabetic retinopathy and is where there is a build-up of fluid in the macular, resulting in swelling and blurred vision.

Cataracts are where your lens clouds over.  They aren’t always caused by diabetes, but if you have the disease you are 5 times more likely to develop them.

Glaucoma attacks the optic nerve that connects your eyes to your brain.  It is also non-exclusive to diabetes sufferers, but if you have the condition you double your chances of developing glaucoma.

In most cases, these conditions can be easily treated when symptoms are spotted at the earliest stages, but if left untreated they can result in irreversible vision loss and even blindness.  It’s important to note that many of the first diabetic eye disease symptoms go under the radar until the condition has already caused serious damage to your retina.  In addition to maintaining normal glucose levels, regular exercise and a healthy diet, the most effective way of preventing vision loss is to book a comprehensive eye examination at least every other year. This helps us monitor changes to your eyes and identify the earliest symptoms such as changes in your retinal blood vessels, leaks, swelling or lens/nerve damage.

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