What is Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is a condition which affects the body’s ability to use and store sugar (glucose).
Diabetes can damage your eyes, and if left unchecked and untreated can eventually lead to blindness.

What is retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy simply means disease of the retina. It occurs when diabetes damages the very fine blood vessels in the retina.

Who is at risk?

People most at risk are those:

  • Who have had diabetes for many years
  • Whose diabetes is poorly controlled (high blood sugars)
  • With diabetic kidney damage
  • With high blood pressure, and /or high blood cholesterol
  • Who are pregnant. This can make diabetic retinopathy progress faster than usual.

But everybody who has ever been diagnosed with diabetes is at risk.

Looking after your eyes

Retinopathy can be successfully treated with eye laser or injection. Fortunately you can do something to prevent loss of sight from diabetes as well by:

  • Achieving good control of your diabetes, cholesterol level, and blood pressure.
  • Having your eyes checked regularly for early detection of retinopathy.

Have your eyes checked regularly

It is important to have your eyes examined regularly by an ophthalmologist who is trained to detect retinopathy.

Don’t wait until you notice problems

Retinopathy can be quite advanced before you notice anything wrong with your sight. The earlier treatment starts, the better the chance of preserving your sight.

Are there any exceptions?

No. Every person with diabetes should have their eyes checked as soon as diabetes is diagnosed and at least every two years after that.
In addition to regular eye checks, you should see your doctor without delay if your vision worsens.