diabetes eye health, Desang Diabetes Magazine, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular oedema

30

LIVING

Other eye conditions

Other eye conditions - such as cataracts and glaucoma - can happen to

anyone, particularly as we age. However, according to Diabetes UK, having

diabetes can put you at a higher risk: two times more likely to develop

cataracts, and one-and-a-half times more likely to develop glaucoma.

Cataract

A cataract is when cloudy patches forms in the lens of the eye. It's

caused by proteins in the eye forming clumps and mainly affects older

adults getting worse over time, resulting in blurry vision and eventually

blindness. Symptoms include cloudy or blurry vision, lights seeming too

bright or glaring, colour fading and finding it harder to see in low light.

As well as age, your risk of developing cataracts may increase if you:

have diabetes

have a family history of cataracts

smoke

have injured your eye

take steroids long term

drink too much alcohol.

Cataracts don't usually hurt and, in early, mild cases, stronger glasses

may help for a while. As time goes on, cataract surgery - which involves

replacing the cloudy lens - is the only way to improve your vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, usually caused

by fluid building up in the front part of the eyes. If it's not diagnosed

and treated early, glaucoma can lead to blindness; however, it doesn't

usually cause any symptoms at first. The most common type - primary

open-angle glaucoma - can develop slowly over many years and is often

discovered during a routine eye test.

If you do experience symptoms, they might be blurred vision or seeing

rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights.

There are various risk factors for developing glaucoma, including:

age - glaucoma becomes more common as you get older, particularly in

your 70s and 80s

ethnicity - if you're of African, Caribbean or Asian origin

family history

other medical conditions, eg short- or long-sightedness and diabetes.

In rare cases, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:

intense eye pain

nausea and vomiting

red eye

eye tenderness

seeing rings around lights

blurred vision

If you suddenly develop glaucoma symptoms, go to your nearest eye clinic

or A&E as soon as possible. This is a medical emergency.

nhs.uk/glaucoma

Keeping your

eyes in check

1 Get help: Always

contact your diabetes

team as soon as

possible if you notice

any changes to

your vision.

2 Attend your eye

screening: This is

the best way to find

any problems before

noticing any changes.

Everyone who has lived

more than 12 years with

diabetes is entitled to

a yearly NHS diabetes

eye screening.

3 Check your blood

glucose. Consistently

high levels can cause

damage to your eyes.

Ask for help from your

diabetes team if you

struggle to stay within

your target range.

4 Check your other

levels: High blood

pressure and high

cholesterol can also

cause damage to your

eyes. Make sure these

are also checked

regularly as part of your

diabetes review.

5 Enjoy a healthy lifestyle:

Healthy eating, regular

physical activity,

and not smoking all

contribute to healthier

blood pressure and

cholesterol levels,

which in turn will

help to benefit your

eye health.

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