Diabetes is a systemic disease characterized by persistently elevated blood glucose levels leading to the damage of blood vessels. As such, the brain, kidney, heart, nerves and eye can all be affected by diabetes. In the eye, diabetes can lead to the development of diabetic retinopathy, early cataracts and glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when fluid leaks out of the damaged retinal blood vessels leading to the loss of vision if this occurs in the macula. In other people, abnormal, new and fragile blood vessels may grow on the surface of the retina and lead to visual loss if they start to bleed.
It is therefore important for diabetics to undergo regular eye screening at least once a year. Treatment of diabetic retinopathy depends on the type of disease present and generally entails the use of either laser therapy or anti VEG-F (vascular endothelial growth factor) injections.
In severe cases of diabetic retinopathy, vitreo-retinal surgery may be necessary. In general, diabetics should maintain a good blood glucose level, ensure that their blood pressures and serum cholesterol levels are within normal limits and also refrain from smoking. People with diabetes should under eye screening regularly with their ophthalmologist.