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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

Vision loss due to diabetes – identify, treat and prevent it

Vision loss due to diabetes – identify, treat and prevent it


If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to visit your optometrist regularly. Over time, diabetes can have a damaging effect on your eyes, which can lead to vision loss and even blindness. However, the sooner you identify, treat, prevent and delay vision problems due to diabetes, the better your chance of minimising vision loss.



How does diabetes cause vision loss?


Diabetes can cause vision loss by damaging the blood vessels in your eyes and affecting the shape of your lenses. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common diabetic eye diseases that can affect people with diabetes. Other diabetic eye diseases include diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma.


In the case of diabetic retinopathy, vision loss happens when high blood glucose levels cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, a light-sensitive layer at the back of your eyes. In more advanced stages new blood vessels form, which are usually abnormal and can cause further vision problems. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.



How to identify vision loss due to diabetes?                           


If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you should have your eyes checked for diabetic retinopathy immediately. If you have type 1 diabetes, have your eyes checked within 5 years of your diagnosis and once every year thereafter.


Also contact your optometrist if you experience the following symptoms of vision loss due to diabetes:

•     Blurred vision

•     Spots or dark shapes (floaters)

•     Flashes

•     Blind spots

•     Trouble seeing colours

•     Distorted vision

•     Struggling to read or do detail work

•     Vision loss.


Your optometrist will do a standard eye test to determine whether you can see objects clearly from afar, as well as a dilated eye exam to view the condition of your retina.



How to treat diabetic vision loss?


The earlier you treat diabetic vision loss, the better. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated by repairing damage to the eye and preventing blindness. Treatment options include:

•     Laser therapy, which creates a barrier of scar tissue that slows the growth of new blood vessels.

•     VEGF inhibitors, medicine which can slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy.

•     Removing all or part of the vitreous.

•     Reattachment of the retina in cases where it has detached.

•     Injection of medicines called corticosteroids.


Persons with diabetic retinopathy can also use low-vision aids such as magnifying glasses and special lenses can help them see more clearly.



How to prevent or delay diabetic vision loss?


If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can prevent and delay vision loss by following these guidelines:


•     Visit your optometrist at least once a year for a dilated eye exam.

•     Maintain your target blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

•     Stop smoking, as it lowers your risk for diabetes-related eye problems.

•     Get physically active, as it helps you manage your diabetes and protects your eyes.



In conclusion


Diabetes can lead to vision loss and even blindness over time. If you have diabetes, it is important to identify, treat, prevent and delay related vision problems such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts and glaucoma proactively to protect your eyesight. Manage your diabetes and overall health well, and visit your optometrist for regular eye exams.



Book an appointment with us


Tomlinson Optometrists specialises in various vision and eyesight problems and diseases, including those associated with diabetes. Contact us for vision screening, eye exams and the best treatment to help you live your life to the fullest.


Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.


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