Don't be blinded by diabetic eye disease

Don't be blinded by diabetic eye disease teaser
Eye disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes and more than 60% of those with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic eye disease within the first 20 years after being diagnosed with diabetes. 

What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina at the back of your eye. The retina is the nerve tissue inside the eye that is responsible for eyesight. The damaged blood vessels swell, bleed and leak fats and fluid into the retina causing blurry vision, blind spots or increased eye pressure. The result is macular oedema (increased eye fluid causing pressure inside the eye) and diabetic retinopathy (mild to severe vision loss from damage to the retina).
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults in the world.
Who is at risk of diabetic eye disease?
  • Everyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but especially Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The longer you have diabetes the more likely you are to develop eye problems.
  • Your risks are higher if blood glucose, blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol) are not well controlled. 
  • It is not all bad news…up to 98% of blindness is preventable!
What can I do to prevent vision loss from diabetic eye disease?
  • A diabetic eye check EVERY YEAR, this will detect any problems before you will even notice any symptoms…early detection and treatment can save your eyesight!
  • Control blood glucose levels
  • Control blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol)
  • Healthy eating, drink water!
  • Add more physical activity to  your daily activities
  • Take medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Quit smoking 
If you are unsure how to organise an eye check or need help with reducing your risk of diabetes eye disease, you can talk a GP or diabetes educator to get you on the right track to seeing your way far into tomorrow and beyond.
Maryanne Pannewig
Diabetes Educator
360 Health + Community
Baker IDI and Centre for Eye Disease (2015), Out of sight – a report on diabetic eye disease in Australia.
Indigenous Eye Health Unit, University of Melbourne (2015) Check today, see tomorrow – diabetic eye disease resource pack.
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