Diabetics should have regular appointments with an optometrist in addition to their annual diabetic retinopathy screening – that is the message from a Sheffield optometrist as Diabetes Week began yesterday.
Alex Gage, the owner of two optometry practices, stressed that it is not just diabetics that need to be aware of the importance of having an eye examination.
4.5 million people in the UK live with the condition while 11.9 million are at increased risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. Eye examinations are invaluable as they can detect diabetes at an early stage.
“As optometrists, we have an extremely important part to play in educating and reminding patients, diabetic or otherwise, about the importance of having an eye exam,” Alex added.
“During Diabetes Week, I would like to raise awareness of the condition. It’s crucial that people understand the seriousness of diabetes, and realise that diabetic people are actually more at risk of developing complications with their eyes.
“This is why we are encouraging diabetics in the local area to make sure they have a routine eye exam every year to keep check of the overall health of their eyes. That should be in addition to diabetic retinopathy screening.”
Diabetes Week runs until 17 June and the theme for 2017 is ‘Know diabetes. Fight diabetes’.
Alex added: “You can get signs of diabetes in the eyes such as variable vision from day to day and leaking blood vessels at the back of the eyes if the condition remains uncontrolled for a long time.
“An eye exam can also pick up other health conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
Diabetes is a life-long health condition that occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced. This causes glucose to rise quickly in the blood.
With Type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly, meaning glucose builds up in the blood. About 90 per cent of people living with diabetes have Type 2. Both can be life-threatening if not treated and managed.
Retinopathy is damage to the retina and is a complication that can affect people with diabetes. It is the most common cause of blindness among people of working age in the UK.
If you have any concerns about your eye health or you have diabetes and would like to get your eyes examined, please contact Alex Gage Family Optometrist at 857 Chesterfield Road, Woodseats on 0114 274 8582 or at 48 Sandygate Road, Crosspool on 0114 266 7066.