From July 19th: We are continuing to observe government guidelines. Find out more.

We are continuing to observe government guidelines in our stores. Find out more.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.

However, it usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight.

To minimise the risk of this happening, people with diabetes should:

  • ensure they control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol
  • attend diabetic eye screening appointments – annual screening is offered to all people with diabetes aged 12 and over to pick up and treat any problems early on

The retina is the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical signals. The signals are sent to the brain which turns them into the images you see.

The retina needs a constant supply of blood, which it receives through a network of tiny blood vessels. Over time, a persistently high blood sugar level can damage these blood vessels in 3 main stages:

  • background retinopathy – tiny bulges develop in the blood vessels, which may bleed slightly but don’t usually affect your vision
  • pre-proliferative retinopathy – more severe and widespread changes affect the blood vessels, including more significant bleeding into the eye
  • proliferative retinopathy – scar tissue and new blood vessels, which are weak and bleed easily, develop on the retina, this can result in some loss of vision

However, if a problem with your eyes is picked up early, lifestyle changes and/or treatment can stop it getting worse.

You won’t usually notice diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, as it doesn’t tend to have any obvious symptoms until it’s more advanced.

However, early signs of the condition can be picked up by taking photographs of the eyes during your eye examination with your local Optician.

Contact your local Optometrist or GP immediately if you experience:

  • gradually worsening vision
  • sudden vision loss
  • shapes floating in your field of vision (floaters)
  • blurred or patchy vision
  • eye pain or redness

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have diabetic retinopathy, but it’s important to get them checked out.

Anyone with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is potentially at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

You’re at a greater risk if you:

  • have had diabetes for a long time
  • have a persistently high blood sugar (blood glucose) level
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high cholesterol
  • are pregnant
  • are of Asian or Afro-Caribbean background

By keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, you can reduce your chances of developing diabetic retinopathy.

You can reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help prevent it getting worse, by:

  • controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • taking your diabetes medication as prescribed
  • attending all your screening appointments
  • getting medical advice quickly if you notice any changes to your vision
  • maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking

Read more about how to prevent diabetic retinopathy.

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is only necessary if screening detects significant problems that mean your vision is at risk.

If the condition hasn’t reached this stage, the above advice on managing your diabetes is recommended.

The main treatments for more advanced diabetic retinopathy are:

  • laser treatment
  • injections of medication into your eyes
  • an operation to remove blood or scar tissue from your eyes

You can read more about the treatment of diabetic retinopathy here.

Concerned About Your
Eye Health or Symptoms?

If you’re concerned about your eye health in any way, the first step is to have an eye examination at your preferred optician’s. At Optical People, we treat all of our patients with the utmost care and you can have full confidence in our team of friendly optical experts. You can book an eye test at a date and time that’s convenient for you, either online or over the phone.

Call 02475 094660

Call any time monday to friday 09:00-17:30 and Saturday 09:00-17:00

BOOK ONLINE

Choose a date and time suitable for you. There's nothing to pay until pay after your appointment

Take our online eye health test quiz

Our online eye health quiz is a great way to identify potential issues or just confirm that everything is actually ok. Take this two minute test and if you’re concerned in any way, you can book an eye test appointment or call and speak to our qualified optical people.

Opening times Mon-Fri:  9am – 5:30pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: Closed

12 Market Place, Nuneaton, CV11 4EE

COVID-19 (19th July 2021): We continue to observe all relevant guidelines with your health and safety and that of our team’s as our top priority.