Diabetes and your eyes.
Did you know that diabetes is the most common cause of preventable blindness in the developed world? Diabetes WA recommend that you have a retinal screen every 12 months to keep an eye on (no pun intended) how your diabetes is affecting your eyes. David Shanahan Optometrist is proud to offer you the latest technology in Retinal Screening to identify and monitor any changes that may be occurring in your eye as a result of your diabetes.
People with diabetes are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when your blood glucose levels are higher than the recommended ranges. When your blood glucose is high your blood becomes thicker and sticky – almost like a syrup. This makes it very hard for the blood to get through tiny capillaries in your eyes that supply your retina with blood. The eye reacts to this by making more capillaries to supply the retina. This is called retinal capillary proliferation. The end result of this, if it not treated, is a decline in sight and eventually blindness.
Those that are most at risk diabetic retinopathy are:
- people who have had diabetes for many years
- people with poorly controlled blood sugars
- people with Type 1 Diabetes
- people with diabetic kidney damage (diabetic nephropathy)
- people with High Blood Pressure and/or high blood fats (cholesterol)
- people who have diabetes and are pregnant – which can make diabetic retinopathy progress faster.
High blood pressure (which is extremely common in people with diabetes) can also cause small bleeds to occur in the capillaries of the eyes, also causing a decline in sight. These complications of diabetes can be treated with laser therapy, which stops bleeds occurring within the eye and can control the proliferation of capillaries.
So how can you reduce the risk of diabetic retinopathy?
- Make sure that you keep your blood sugar levels healthy. Your doctor should be testing your 3-monthly average blood sugar level (HbA1c – also known as glycated haemoglobin) and making sure it is under 7%. This helps prevent ALL complications of diabetes – not just diabetic retinopathy.
- Making sure you get your blood pressure checked by your GP every time you see him/her (Goal of less than 130/80).
- Getting your blood cholesterol tested every 6-12 months by your GP (Goal of under 4mmoL).
- Taking your diabetes/blood pressure/cholesterol medication as prescribed by your GP
- Getting a retinal scan every year!
If you are overdue for your retinal scan, please call us at David Shanahan Optometrists for an appointment.
Julie Kite (Dietitian/Diabetes Educator)
51 Market St, Fremantle, West Australia, Tel 08 93352602
David Shanahan © 2009