Diabetes and Your Eyes
About 7% of the Australian population over 25 years of age have diabetes, increasing to about 25% over 75 years of age. Of these, more than 70% will develop some changes in their eyes within 15 years of diagnosis. Optometrists play a fundamental role in diagnosing these conditions in their early stages when they respond best to treatment.
Eye changes in people with diabetes
Diabetes sometimes causes the focusing ability of the eye to weaken or to fluctuate from day to day. This characteristic has often led to optometrists diagnosing diabetes in their patients. The problem eases when blood glucoselevels are well controlled. Diabetes can also cause more dangerous changes in the eyes, primarily through its effects on the blood vessels in the retina.
After diabetes has been present for some years, changes may occur at the back of the eye in the retina. Your optometrist uses an instrument called an ophthalmoscope to check for these changes. These changes are known as diabetic retinopathy. There are two main types of this condition: non-proliferative (sometimes called background) retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy. The risk of developing retinopathy increases with the length of time you have had diabetes. The risk is also increased when blood glucose levels are not well controlled over time.
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* Article and photo courtesy of Optometry Australia.