Diabetes and your eyes
The current number of people living with diabetes in Canada is approximately 3.3 million. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, accounting for 90% of cases.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for diabetic retinopathy. It develops over time and often goes unnoticed until vision loss occurs. This eye damage can lead to vision changes and blindness. In the early stages it can be managed by controlling the blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when there is a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels that feed the retina of your eye, resulting in blood leakage, the growth of new blood vessels and other changes. Blood vessels become blocked or closed, and parts of the retina die. New, abnormal, blood vessels grow to replace the old ones. Blindness can result if this goes untreated.
Go see an eye doctor immediately when you notice any of the following changes to your vision:
- blurred vision
- flashes of light in your field of vision
- sudden loss of vision
- blotches or spots in vision
You may not be aware of changes to your vision and many problems can be treated when caught early and with regular checks with your doctor of optometry or ophthalmologist.
A diabetic eye exam may be covered by your provincial health plan at no cost to you.