Diabetes increases the risk of a range of eye diseases, but the main cause of blindness associated with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy (DR). Diabetes damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. It commonly affects both eyes and can lead to vision loss if it is not treated. Most patients who develop DR have no symptoms until the later stages (by which time it may be too late for effective treatment). Therefore, screening and early intervention are critical in detecting eye problems. Education around diet and proper control of blood sugar and blood pressure is important as a preventative measure and laser surgery is needed to prevent vision impairment and blindness.
Diabetes causes the body to lose the ability to self-regulate its blood sugar levels. Abnormally high or low levels of sugar can then occur in the blood. This variation in the blood sugar levels damages cells in the body. The small blood vessels in the eyes are especially susceptible.
To prevent damage to the eyes, you need to achieve the most stable glycaemic control possible. Your GP and/or Endocrinologist can order tests to measure you Glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c. This is a blood test used to measure plasma (blood) glucose concentration. It usually indicates the average blood glucose levels over the previous month to three months. To reduce the risk of developing eye complications, the target Hba1c levels are 7.0% or lower. It is also important to control you blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The best way to safeguard your eyes and eyesight from diabetes is to: