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Retinopathy : How Does Diabetes Effect The Eyes

woman's eyes up close

Diabetes Canada estimates a 44% increase in the prevalence of diabetes by the year 2025. It is no secret that many Canadians have diabetes, or at risk for getting this disease. Many of us know loved ones who are diabetic or are diabetics themselves, and are aware of how common it is, but are you aware of its effects on the eyes? This week’s article will explore how diabetes can cause retinopathy and its effects on the eyes. Read on and become aware!


Glaucoma, Cataracts, Retinopathy.

People who live with diabetes have an increased risk of developing glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. In previous blogs, I have discussed both glaucoma and cataracts in detail, so this blog will be primarily dedicated to retinopathy. Check out our previous blog posts here.


What is Retinopathy?

Retinopathy affects the very important retina. The retina is positioned at the back of the eye. It works similar to a camera by capturing an image and then relaying it back to the brain for processing. The retina has light sensitive cells, which are referred to as photoreceptors. Individuals with diabetes can develop retinopathy when the retinal blood vessels are damaged. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are at risk for developing retinopathy. This is precisely why it is extremely important to keep blood sugar levels optimal. When damage occurs the effects may not be obvious; however, as retinopathy progresses, blindness may occur due to a retinal detachment. Understanding the seriousness of retinopathy is key for those who have the disease or at risk. Learn the symptoms next so you know what to be aware of.



It is important to be aware of the symptoms of retinopathy, so if you experience them you can see an eye doctor immediately and begin any necessary treatment. Patients should always see their optometrist in the case of eye emergencies. Why? They have the knowledge, tools, and the ability to refer to specialists on a priority basis. Hospitals and GPs may not have the specialized equipment optometrists do, like a slit lamp, and or larger wait times. Consequently, all of these factors can ultimately prolong treatment. Read more on how optometrists are trained to deal with eye emergencies here. However, if your regular family eye care center is not open, do go to your nearest emergency center.

  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision

If you experience any of the above symptoms give your local Victoria, BC eye doctor a call. Also, ensure that you let the front desk know you are having an eye emergency so you can be seen right away.


How to be Proactive?

No one should miss their regular comprehensive eye exam, and this is especially true for someone with diabetes. Many eye conditions and diseases have little to no symptoms. Therefore an eye exam is a chance for your family eye doctor to catch these issues early and start a treatment plan. The best success with treating eye issues and diseases is when they are caught sooner than later. Diabetes Canada has outlined the following guidelines for diabetic patients:

  • Visit your Candian Association of Optometrists (CAO) optometrist at least once per year. Your optometrist may recommend you visit more or less frequently depending on your situation.
  • Maintain optimal blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
  • Know your A1C (a test of your average blood glucose level over three months). Most people with diabetes should aim for a target of 7.0 or less. Talk to your healthcare team about what your target should be.


Do you need a comprehensive eye exam? Give us a call or book online with Dr. Sharma.

We are your trusted local Victoria, BC doctors of optometry!