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Diabetes and Eye Health


As people with diabetes know, the condition can affect eye health which is why eye screenings are a regular part of standard diabetes health care checks. Diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic eye disease, is a closing of the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in the retina being starved of blood, leading to fragile and abnormal blood vessels growing on the surface of the retina.

This can mean blood and fluid entering the retina and damaging the cells which detect light. It is an eye condition which can lead to permanent loss of vision – either from bleeding into the eye, detachment of the retina or retinal scarring in people who have diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes are potentially at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

“Vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is often avoidable with early detection, lifestyle changes and treatment. ”


What are the causes?

High blood sugar levels due to a lack of insulin from diabetes can cause these eye issues over time, such as making your small blood vessels and capillaries leaky.

Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more.

The condition particularly affects those with poor diabetic control, resulting in blood sugar levels which are high over long periods of time.

What are the symptoms?

  • gradually worsening vision

  • sudden vision loss

  • shapes floating in your field of vision (floaters)

  • blurry vision or patchy vision

  • eye pain or redness

  • difficulty seeing in the dark


What are the treatments and preventions?

The good news is that it is possible for most people to prevent diabetic retinopathy from getting worse. Research indicates that at least 90% of new cases could be prevented if proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes is carried out on a regular basis. You can keep your eyes healthy by taking these steps:

  • have regular eye examinations with an Optometrist including the advanced 3D OCT scan

  • go to your diabetic eye screening appointments

  • tell your Optician about any changes to your eyesight

  • try to keep to your target blood sugar levels

  • try to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight in target range

  • make healthy lifestyle choices.

Regular eye tests can help to identify early signs of this condition and so you can take action to control diabetes before it damages your body and your eyes. People with diabetes are entitled to FREE regular eye tests from the NHS. It is important to have regular general health checks, as there are often no early warning signs for diabetic retinopathy.

There are lots of things you can do to control your blood and your blood pressure in your target range, and this should be discussed with your doctor. The more you control your levels, the lower your risk of developing serious problems with your eyes, and if you do begin to develop eye complications, they can nearly always be treated to avoid long term problems - as long as they are spotted and diagnosed in time.

If you are concerned that you may have diabetes, please book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Urgent referral can save your sight.

Do you have diabetes?

If the answer is yes, then you will be aware that you are at increased risk of eye problems, including diabetic retinopathy. The good news is that early detection with a comprehensive eye test may correct the problem or stop it getting worse.

“The earlier these changes are detected, the higher the chance of treatment before any permanent damage to the vision happens.”

In addition to your regular diabetic eye screenings, we recommend a 3D OCT scan which is a more advanced test enabling us to see all 10 layers of the retina, picking up any changes earlier. We regularly refer diabetic patients back to their eye clinics for further tests, providing a joined-up service.


Photo of blue eye

You don’t have diabetes?

We recommend regular eye exams at least every 2 years for people over 16, and every year for under 16s. Or if you notice any changes to your vision, please book in with us as soon as you can for an eye test. Our advanced eye tests can detect changes that might indicate diabetes. We have easy Online Booking for appointments or call 020 8759 9395.

More information and advice on diabetes and eye health

Vision problems can arise in anyone, at any time – it doesn't matter how young or old you are, or how fit you are. It's our goal is to spot early signs of eye disease to help you get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. If you are ever worried about your eyes or your family’s eye health, or want to discuss risk factors, feel free to come and talk to us about eye care.


Ideally located near the Heathrow airport in the London Borough of Hounslow, Cranford Opticians can be easily reached from Twickenham, Feltham, Richmond , Teddington, Whitton, Hayes, Heston, Harlington, Southall, Staines, Ashford, Stanwell, Sunbury and many other areas in London and Surrey.

Find us at 742 Bath Road, Cranford, Hounslow, London, TW5 9TY. Street parking on The Avenue, High Street, Berkeley Avenue or Waye Avenue. Car parks at the Ibis Budget London Heathrow Central (TW5 9SX) and DoubleTree Hilton by Hilton London Heathrow Airport (TW5 9QE). Please check for parking conditions.

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