What is diabetes?
Approximately 3% of the population is affected by diabetes. Increases in the blood glucose concentration (hyperglycaemia) occur when there is a lack of naturally-produced insulin in the body.
There are two main types of diabetes; Type 1 (Insulin-dependent) which affects those with damage to certain cells in their pancreas and usually occurs in individuals in their teens. Insulin injections must be administered regularly. Type 2 (Non-Insulin dependent) diabetics do not necessarily have to inject insulin and often has a later onset (50+ years). It can be controlled through good diet and with the occasional use of tablets.
All diabetic patients should have their internal eye health checked annually using pupil dilation in conjunction with retinal camera photography. These images will be archived for future comparison. This procedure is organised via your GP who will inform the local Diabetic Retinopathy Screening service about your details. They will send you a letter detailing the time and place of your appointment. In Cambridgeshire this is organised by Hinchingbrooke hospital.
The diabetic retina can show a progression of changes including different types of “exudates”, “haemorrhages”, “cotton wool spots” and ultimately end-stage retinal detachment. However, with good blood glucose and blood pressure control, most diabetics can prevent clinically-significant eye damage and maintain good vision.
While the partial treatment offered (photocoagulation) can be effective, the best means of prevention is accomplished solely through good diabetic respect and frequent eye assessment.