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