Diabetes affects the whole body, but the eye is the only place where it is possible to study the blood vessels non-invasively. This means that we are able to have a good look at the back of your eyes and see if there are any signs of the diabetes causing problems or not being controlled.
The symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy (basically signs of diabetes at the back of your eye) can be as simple as your vision going a bit blurry, so keeping up to date with both your diabetic retinopathy screening photographs and your sight tests gives everyone the best possible chance to monitor the state of your diabetes.
So what does the Diabetes do?
Diabetes affects the circulation in your body and this means that the blood vessels that carry blood around your body do not work properly. They can leak fluid and blood, which can be seen on the retina, or they can develop blockages which leads to some areas of the retina not getting any oxygen delivered to them and so they suffocate. This too can be seen on the retina.
Your eyes are very well designed because when they detect an area that is being starved of oxygen, they try to deal with it themselves. If there is a blood vessel with a blockage, the blood vessels will be told to produce new vessels which travel around this blockage, rather like a by-pass around a busy town.
Unfortunately, because these blood vessels are made quickly, they are not made as thoroughly as the original vessels in your eyes and so are much more likely to burst or leak – seriously affecting your vision in the process.
Keeping up to date with your checks means that if there are any signs of these new vessels developing, they can be treated quickly and efficiently – either with a laser light or special medication.
I’m in my forties/fifties and have been told that I have cataracts. Is this true?
With diabetes it is possible to get cataracts a little earlier than you may expect. Diabetes affects the structure of the special cells within the lens of your eye which ensures that it stays clear. If these cells are altered, they start to make the lens appear cloudy and so a cataract can develop.
So what can Davis Optometrists do?
Firstly, a regular sight check will allow us to monitor your vision and ocular health, but specifically for diabetes we can look closely at the retina and look for any changes to the blood vessels or the retina itself which may indicate that the diabetes is affecting the eye.
We are also able to take both photographs and 3D OCT scans (which works similar to an ultrasound scan) to allow us to keep detailed records of the health of your eyes and detect any minor changes.
I have my photographs taken by my local screening program, do I still need to have them done by you?
Yes! With the diabetic screening programs they are specifically studying the back of your eyes with regards to your diabetes. Whilst this gives a very in-depth picture to the health of your eyes and your diabetes, it is not checking the general health of your eyes. Unfortunately it is possible to have more than one thing affecting your eyes and we will look at all aspects of your eye health.