People with diabetes can have an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak. Or they can close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina.
It is important to control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol and get your eyes tested for diabetic retinopathy. Uncontrolled levels of blood sugar in people with diabetes progressively damage the blood vessels inside the retina, which is at the back of the eye. A healthy retina aids good vision. People with diabetic retinopathy experience blurring and dark spots in their vision, usually in both eyes.
Symptoms or changes in eyesight may not be noticeable in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses with time, it gradually affects a person’s sight. If the condition is ignored for a long time, it could result in complete loss of sight. Timely screening is crucial to prevent permanent damage.
- Having type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- You have lived with diabetes for over 5 years
- Your HbA1c is above 5.7%
- You have high blood pressure
- You have kidney complications and other nutritional and genetic risk factors
- You are pregnant
- Make sure to get a yearly retina examination
- Take prescribed medicines regularly
- Test for blood sugar (HbA1c) and keep blood pressure under control
- Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly
- Visit an eye specialist promptly if this is recommended