Common Eye Disorders > Diabetes

Diabetes is a common disease and has important implications for the short-term and long-term health of sufferers. In particular it can affect the eyes.

Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause changes in the focusing of the crystalline lens within the eye and may cause temporary visual blurring, particularly if diabetic control is poor. Diabetes can also cause cataracts in young people, or accelerate the development of cataracts in older people.

Most importantly poor sugar control can lead to diabetic retinopathy and its complications, of which blindness is the worst.

Diabetic retinopathy is when the small blood vessels at the back of the eye start to leak or become blocked. Ultimately this can lead to new blood vessel formation, which can be very destructive.

Tight control of diabetes can reduce the risk of retinopathy by 60% in type I (insulin dependent) and 40% in type II (non-insulin dependent) diabetes, and will also reduce the risk of other diabetic complications.

At any one time up to 10% of people with diabetes will have retinopathy requiring medical follow up with an eye specialist or treatment.

Although the majority of people with diabetes who have had diabetes for long enough will have some degree of retinopathy, eye checks will enable early diagnosis and early treatment. When people first develop diabetic retinopathy they have no symptoms, but, if diagnosed at this early stage, it is a treatable condition, which is why it is important for diabetics to have regular eye tests.

People with diabetes should have an eye examination at diagnosis and yearly thereafter by their ophthalmologist.

Diabetes can also affect other organs, and the presence and severity of retinopathy may be an indicator of increased risk of other complications of diabetes such as ischemic heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetic neuropathy (which contributes to male impotence and diabetic foot disease).

Diabetic Screening

People with diabetes should have an eye examination at diagnosis and yearly thereafter by their ophthalmologist.

Please click here to make an appointment.