Can we tell if you have Diabetes by looking into your Eyes?

Diabetes in the eyes

When attending for a sight test the optometrist will not only advise you on whether you need glasses but will also do a health check.

Many systemic conditions like diabetes can be seen to affect the eyes. However, it is very important to remember secondary changes in the eye usually occur when the underlying condition is more established rather than in the early stages. A healthy eye does not mean you do not suffer with an underlying systemic condition but the best guarantee is to see your GP for the necessary health tests.

Diabetes is one of the most common systemic conditions that can affect the eyes and can be observed when checking the health of eyes in a number of ways.

Diabetic Retinopathy

This is the main secondary effect observed in diabetics and is due to changes seen on the retina.

The retina is the ‘light sensitive’ layer of cells at the back of the eye. From here light is converted to electrical signals which then go to the brain to produce the images that we see.

The retina is supplied by a network of blood vessels and is the only part of the body where we get a direct view of this circulation. As high blood sugar in diabetes causes damage to these blood vessels this can lead to fluid leak or hemorrhages. Early stages of diabetic retinopathy doesn’t often affect the vision and so can progress unnoticed. It is thus very important that all diabetics have an annual diabetic screening so early detection, timely treatment and controlling your diabetes (through medication, healthy diet, regular exercise and normal body weight) can prevent or delay further progression which can otherwise eventually lead to vision loss.

Diabetic Macula Oedema

This is usually due to progression of diabetic retinop