With a staggering 4 million people in the UK having diabetes, the condition is something everyone should know about and yet many of us don’t. On 12th to 18th of June this year it is Diabetes Week in the UK, providing an opportunity to ensure everyone is aware of this condition. By being aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, it is possible to detect the condition early, and early detection is key to its successful treatment and management.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition that results in the body having higher than normal levels of blood sugar. Insulin, the hormone that helps glucose get into our cells, is either unable to be produced in sufficient quantities or the body is unable to use it as effectively as it should. As a result of this, sugar levels remain high in the blood. There are different types of diabetes and different reasons as to why people become diabetic. Its health effects are very wide ranging – from heart disease to kidney failure, from amputation to blindness.
At Tunnell Vision we are keen to promote awareness of diabetes. In terms of vision, a major complication of diabetes which can affect the eyes is diabetic retinopathy. This is the most common cause of blindness among people of working age in the UK. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the retina. To be able to see, light must be able to pass through the eye to the retina, which is a light sensitive layer of cells. The cells convert the light into electrical impulses that are sent via the optic nerve to the brain and interpreted as images. The retina is constantly supplied with blood and is a very delicate area, so high sugar levels will cause damage to the retina which in turn affects vision.
Detection of diabetes is vital. Three common signs to diabetes are increased thirst, hunger and a frequent need to urinate. Prevention is clearly the best approach to take and having an awareness of the signs of diabetes is vital, as are having regular eye check-ups. On a day to day basis, a strict regime of blood sugar and pressure maintenance and a healthy lifestyle is also a good strategy for people who have or wish to prevent diabetes. Smoking should also be avoided.
An optometrist can detect diabetic retinopathy by undertaking an Optimal Coherence Tomography (OCT) extended eye examination. Retinal specialists can offer medicines, laser surgery and surgery as options to treat the condition. The earlier anything is detected then the better the chances of preserving vision. If you have any concerns about your eye health or if you have diabetes and would like to get your eyes checked then please get in touch and arrange an appointment.