Doctors warn diabetics to take eye tests

| 02/05/2011

(CNS): At the start of the Lions White Cane week local doctors are warning the public to ensure they have frequent eye examines especially those suffering from Diabetes Mellitus a well known systemic disease that affects many people. Expert say it can cause many eye problems, all of which can result in vision loss and sometimes blindness. People suffering both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk of glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Decreased vision usually occurs at the late stages of these eye diseases. There is no pain or any other symptom at the onset hence the necessity for diabetics to have annual eye exams by an eye care professional.

Glaucoma occurs when fluid pressure builds up in the eye. The pressure causes gradual damage to the optic nerve which corresponds to gradual vision loss. Noticeable vision loss occurs later into the disease and is irreversible. There are treatments available for glaucoma and early diagnosis is the key to controlling the progression of the disease. Diabetics are twice as likely to suffer from glaucoma as those that do not have diabetes. The longer the time that someone has diabetes, the more common the occurrence and the risk also increases with age.

Cataracts arise when the lens of an eye changes, becoming cloudy or opaque. If a cataract leads to a great reduction in vision, surgery is recommended. Diabetics are very likely to develop cataracts and to get them earlier in life.

The retina is the part of the eye that works to convert the visual image into a signal the brain can interpret. Diabetic retinopathy develops when diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels on the retina. As the damage progresses, vision begins to decline. Many factors play a role in leading to diabetic retinopathy. The three main factors are blood sugar control, how long the person has had diabetes and family history. Keeping blood sugar levels controlled well either decreases the risk or helps the retinopathy to be controlled or mild. For severe forms, laser surgery is necessary to attempt to save vision.

Early diagnosis is essential for the best possible outcome and control of diabetic eye disease, say doctors.

Check out CNS health pages this week for more articles on eye care and health issues for adults and children.

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