Sometimes blurred vision may be experienced around the time of diagnosis. This is not permanent eye damage but is caused by increased water in the eye leading to more pressure. This then distorts vision. This will clear over time (up to 8 weeks) as blood glucose levels are lowered.
Eye problems (retinopathy or maculopathy)
Retinopathy and maculopathy refers to a group of eye problems that may occur in people with diabetes as a complication. All can cause vision loss or even blindness. However, eye disease can often be treated before vision loss occurs. All people with diabetes should have an eye examination at least once a year or as advised by a healthcare professional.
Eye conditions can include -
- Damage to the retina, in the back of the eye
- Damage to the macular affecting highly sensitive, accurate vision
- Cataract – clouding of the lens of the eye
- Glaucoma – increased fluid pressure in the eye
What are the symptoms of retinopathy?
A person with an early stage of retinopathy may have no symptoms and no pain. Vision may not change until the disease progresses.
Note – If you have sudden changes in vision or black spots appear in your vision, contact your doctor or nurse immediately.
Who is at risk?
Anyone with diabetes is at risk of eye problems. The longer a person has diabetes, the more likely he or she will develop eye problems. They cannot be completely avoided, but the risk can be greatly reduced.
What can I do?
The risk of developing problems can be reduced by having an eye examination once a year where your pupil is dilated (opened wide) with eye drops. It is important to dilate the pupils so that the inside of the eye can be seen clearly. It is advisable to not drive immediately after this test (for 2 – 4 hours) and to wear sunglasses outside till your eyes feel normal.
Strictly managing diabetes by -
- Taking medications as directed
- Eating appropriate foods to manage blood glucose levels
- Exercising to lower and help the body use blood glucose
- Testing blood glucose levels regularly
Your doctor or nurse will refer you to your local Retinal Screening Programme if you are diagnosed with diabetes.
Screening is usually performed by a suitably trained optometrist, technician, ophthalmologist or other clinician at your DHB hospital or community provider.