The Star: October 27, 2016


36 Thursday October 27 2016

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The Star

Diabetes can seriously affect your eyes

Diabetes can damage your eyes before you

notice any change in vision. But by picking

up these early signs of diabetic eye damage

and getting them treated, you can reduce the

chance of serious damage. When diabetic eye

damage is more severe it can be irreversible

and there is a risk you will lose your sight.

There are things you can do to prevent

diabetic eye disease, or keep it as mild as

possible to protect your vision. Make sure you:

• Have good control of your blood sugar

levels and closely monitor your diabetes with

your GP or specialist.

• Stop Smoking. Smoking increases the risk

of serious eye disease

• Treat high blood pressure and high


• If you have type 1 diabetes, make sure you

start having regular eye checks from five years

after you are diagnosed (after the age of 12).

• If you have type 2 diabetes, start having

regular eye checks as soon as you are


• Get an extra eye examination if you are

pregnant, and monitor your diabetes closely

with your GP. Pregnancy poses extra risks to

your sight if you have diabetes

• Let your doctor or eye-care professional

know straight away if there are any sudden

changes to your vision.

If you show certain signs of diabetes

affecting your eyes, you may be advised to

have a diabetes eye check more often. If you

have diabetes and haven’t been having an eye

check, speak to your GP or practice nurse for

a referral.

Diabetic retinopathy is the name for any

damage to the retina caused by diabetes.

Anyone with diabetes – type 1 or 2, or

gestational – needs to have a check for diabetic

retinopathy, as it can happen at any time. Over

time, high blood sugar levels damage the

blood vessels in the retina, at the back of your

eye, which can then bleed.

The pictures below show what eye specialists

see when they look through your pupil to the

retina at the back. At the top is a normal,

healthy eye. Below it is an eye with diabetic

retinopathy. You can see some burst blood


Diabetes can damage the light-sensitive area

on the back of your eyes, called the retina.

Light goes in through the front of our eyes

and onto the retina at the back. The retina

acts like a camera film, capturing the images

we see. The macula is the central part of the

retina. It is the most sensitive part, and it

allows us to see the fine detail that we need to

read, recognise faces and to drive. It also lets

us see colour.

The rest of the retina lets us see less defined

images. It gives us our peripheral vision, or

side vision, helps us sense movement, and

helps us see at night.

People with diabetes are more likely to suffer

from glaucoma than people without diabetes.

The longer someone has had diabetes, the more

likely they are to get glaucoma. Glaucoma is

an increase in pressure inside your eye that

can make you lose your vision. Your risk of

glaucoma increases with age. You can get your

eyes checked for signs of glaucoma when you

have your diabetes eye check.

People with diabetes are also more likely to

get cataracts, and to get them at a younger age

than people without diabetes. Their cataracts

are also likely to get worse much more quickly.

A cataract is when the eye’s clear lens gets

cloudy, blocking light.

Diabetes can badly damage your eyes before

you notice any change in your vision.

Most people with early diabetic retinopathy

have no symptoms. Even with the more

dangerous sight-threatening form of diabetic

retinopathy, people sometimes have no

symptoms until it is too late to treat them.

For this reason, you should have your

eyes examined regularly by an eye-care


A diabetes eye check is different to a normal

eye check for your glasses. A special diabetes

eye check is called retinal screening. Ask

your GP to refer you to the Canterbury DHB

Ophthalmology (eye) Department so you can

go on to the publicly funded retinal screening

programme. Or you can choose to pay for a

private ophthalmologist or optometrist to do

your retinal screening.

In Canterbury, diabetic eye screening

is carried out by the Canterbury Diabetic

Retinopathy Photographic Screening Service.

Treatment doesn’t cure diabetic retinopathy,

and it doesn’t usually restore your vision

to what it was before. However, it can slow

down the damage and stop new damage from

“Treadle” for Healthy Feet

“Treadling” on an Aircycle circulation

booster is a highly effective way to keep

feet healthy,” says Lynne Taylor, Manager of

Diabetes Christchurch.

Maintaining good blood flow in the feet

is key in preventative foot care and is simple

with an Aircycle. The “treadle” exercise works

the calf muscles and that pumps the blood.

“It’s in our feet that arthritis, complications

of diabetes including, nerve, neuropathy and

circulatory disorders often show up,” says

Lynne. .”It’s important to heed the first signs,

as loss of feeling can mean abrasions, ulcers

and other foot problems go undetected or do

not heal, sometimes leading to amputation”.

By maintaining good blood flow with the

Aircycle, people frequently report numb,

tingling feet regain feeling, normal colour

and flexibililty, swollen ankles and cramps are

relieved and ulcers heal.

You do not need special exercise times with

the Aircycle. Just keep moving gently while

having coffee, watching TV or chatting on the

happening. It is very important that you get

good control over your blood sugar, as this

can reduce any further damage.

Laser treatment: If diabetic retinopathy is

threatening your vision, laser treatment may

be an option. The laser seals leaking blood

vessels in your retina and also stops fragile,

abnormal blood vessels from growing. These

blood vessels may bleed and suddenly reduce

your sight. The laser can treat just one spot,

such as the macula. This is called focal laser

treatment. Or it can be used more widely in

the retina, to help slow or stop any further


Injections: Medicines can help to reduce

the growth of abnormal blood vessels and

reduce the amount of fluid leaking from them.

These medicines can be injected into your

eye, after it is numbed with local anaesthetic.

This treatment is especially useful if the

retinopathy is affecting your macula – the

part of the retina that is responsible for fine,

detailed vision. This treatment can only be

done by ophthalmologists (eye doctors) in

their clinics.

Surgery: Some people with advanced

diabetic eye disease and severe loss of vision

need retinal surgery. If you have this surgery,

you may need to stay in hospital overnight.

Most people with diabetes will get some

retinopathy. If it’s mild it won’t affect your

vision, but it can get worse if it’s not treated.

How mild or severe it becomes depends

on how well-controlled your diabetes is

and whether you have regular diabetic eye

screening tests.

phone. Pop it in your pocket to take to the

office to use under your desk or particularly

practical, when you are travelling by car or


It is so easy to protect and care for your feet

with an Aircycle. They’re available at Diabetes

Christchurch and pharmacies. (RRP $39.90)

Information and orders:

or call 0800 14 14 15.


Boost circulation and gently exercise

while you sit – it’s so easy!

FOR: Arthritic pain, diabetes, stroke rehab, balance,

mobility, stiff joints, weak muscles, circulation


problems, swollen ankles, cramps, aching

legs, sore feet and hands, travelling & more. $39



Info & orders or call 0800 14 14 15

In pharmacies, Diabetes Christchurch, Aspire Canterbury

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