If you suffer from diabetes, then you are more likely to suffer from both glaucoma and cataracts. However this is not the biggest danger for diabetic patients in terms of eyesight – more concerning is the increased risk of retinopathy, with diabetic retinopathy actually being the leading cause of blindness in those aged between 20 and 65. If you are diabetic and you notice any change in your eyesight, you should see an eye doctor right away.
What is Retinopathy?
Retinopathy is a general term that means ‘damage to the retina’. Your retina is the thin layer of sensitive tissue found on the inside surface of the eye. This is where your nerve cells convert incoming light into electrical impulses to be read and understood by the brain.
In diabetic retinopathy, the retina gets damaged due to swelling in the veins that nourish this tissue and the nerve cells. This condition goes through four stages, starting with mild non-proliferative retinopathy where the blood cells begin to swell. From there it can progress into moderate and sever non-proliferative retinopathy. The most advanced stage is ‘proliferative retinopathy’ at which point the eye begins to generate more blood vessels to make up for the lost ones. As these blood vessels are abnormal however, they can rupture and bleed into the retina or vitreous fluid. They may even cause tugging on the retina or retinal detachment. The sooner you see an eye doctor, the better your chances of recovery.
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include blurred/double vision, cloudy patches in your eyesight, flashing lights, blind spots, impaired visual acuity and decreased or impaired depth perception. If you notice these symptoms alongside the other symptoms of diabetes, then see an eye doctor immediately or consult with your GP to get your insulin and blood sugar in check.