1. How can Type 1 Diabetes cause vision complications?
Those with Type 1 diabetes are more at risk to develop an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy which can affect eyesight.
If blood glucose level is consistently high, it can seriously damage blood vessels. When it affects the blood vessels in the eyes it impacts the blood supply to the retina (the part of the eye that make us able to see).
When these blood vessels are damaged it means the retina can’t get the blood it needs and so it can’t work properly. This means the one affected with diabtes won’t be able to see properly and may go blind.
There are things that can be done to prevent vision loss, if the signs are caught early enough. The most important one is to ensure to keep blood glucose levels in the target range to avoid long term complications. Yearly eye check can help detect eye problems early, before it leads to blindness.
2. What eye problems can happen?
- A cataract, which is a thickening and clouding of the lens of the eye which blurs vision or makes it hard to see at night
- Glaucoma, which is when the pressure builds up inside the eye which can decrease the blood flow to the retina and optic nerve, causing damage. Over time, if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision loss
- Diabetic retinopathy, which involves changes in the retina due to damage or growth problems in the small blood vessels of the retina.
3. Catching eye problems early.
The best way to see if a person with diabetes has eye problems is to have an eye doctor check their eyes. Eye damage can happen even when the vision seams fine. It has nothing to do with needing glasses.
It’s important to detect eye disease early and do something about it to prevent blindness. For that, people with diabetes should have an eye screening organised every year. This is different to eye tests by opticians which help people with fitting glasses or contact lenses.
What is an eye screening for people with diabetes? An eye doctor will take a photo of each eye to look for any changes to the retina of your child and any signs of retinopathy.
If it’s caught early, there are treatment that can be done to prevent vision loss. A doctor can discuss this as long as they are provided with the results of the annual eye screening of the one concerned.
4. Tips to reduce the risk of eye problems.
- Ensure to help the one affected with diabetes keep blood glucose levels in the target range
- Get people with diabetes an eye screen every year
- Spot changes to the eyesight including: blurred vision (especially at night), shapes floating in your vision, sensitivity to light
- Follow the healthy eating guidelines and avoid foods that contain bad carbohydrates like sugary drinks, desserts and junk food like potato chips
- Encourage exercise for 30 minutes per day and try and do the exercise with him. Your health is also important so don’t forget about yourself.
HelloType1 content is based on published, internationally recognised guidelines and then reviewed by local experts to ensure it fits local context. The translation is based on simplified English language to ensure it conveys the safest and clearest possible message in regional languages. Basic insulin and blood glucose testing access is still an issue in the South-East Asia region and our chief aim is to address this. HelloType1 content is not intended to replace the advice of individual healthcare professionals but as a collaborative tool to help them improve the outcomes of disadvantaged people with Type 1 Diabetes in the region.