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How a sight test helps someone with diabetes

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!

A regular sight test can help to maintain eye health and monitor conditions like diabetes.

This life-long condition occurs when the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly.

All types of diabetes are closely linked with a number of conditions that can impair vision, with diabetic retinopathy being the leading cause and the most common form of diabetic eye disease.

Diabetic retinopathy can affect anyone who has diabetes, even if they are being treated with insulin, tablets or diet only. 

It affects the blood vessels supplying the retina, or the ‘seeing part of the eye’ and a persistently high blood sugar level can over time damage these blood vessels, which can cause partial vision loss and poses a major risk to blindness if left untreated.

Research indicates that at least 90% of new cases of diabetic retinopathy could be prevented if proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes is carried out on a regular basis.

It’s important that you know what to look out for. It is recommended that you visit your local optician for a sight test if you have diabetes and are experiencing any of the following:

  • gradually worsening vision
  • sudden vision loss 
  • shapes floating in your field of vision (floaters) 
  • blurred or patchy vision 
  • eye pain or redness


These symptoms don't necessarily mean you have diabetic retinopathy, but it's important to get them checked out as soon as possible, so don't wait until your next screening appointment.

If you have diabetes and you don’t experience these symptoms, a regular yearly sight test is still important as diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80% of all people who have been living with diabetes for over a decade.

There are also other factors that can put you at a greater risk of diabetic retinopathy, such as if you:

  • have had diabetes for a long time
  • have a persistently high blood sugar (blood glucose) level 
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high cholesterol
  • are pregnant 
  • are of Asian or Afro-Caribbean background

It’s not all doom and gloom though!

You can actively reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help prevent it from getting worse, by:

  • controlling your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • taking your diabetes medication as prescribed 
  • attending all your screening appointments 
  • getting medical advice quickly if you notice any changes to your vision
  • maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking

As it usually takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach a stage where it could threaten your sight, it’s never too late to make a positive change to your life.

Regular sight tests can help to spot the early signs of this condition and enable you to take action to actively control diabetes before it damages your body and your eyes.

If you have a loved one in care or are a carer for someone who is showing these signs, why not arrange for one of team to come out and put your mind at ease?