Is There More To Diabetes Than Meets The Eye?

Is There More To Diabetes Than Meets The Eye?

Is diabetes the new buzz word being bandied around by health care professionals? Or IS THERE MORE TO DIABETES THAN MEETS THE EYE?


For the past six years as a practising Optometrist I have examined hundreds of patients who have diabetes. Many were surprised to learn that an eye test could reveal early signs of diabetes, while others knew about their condition but knew little about the implications of the disease.


I began to ask myself why so many people seem to think that diabetes is part and parcel of growing old, comparable to getting grey hair. Comments such as, “My dad has diabetes but it is the one you get when you get older.” As if it was inevitable that all older people will develop diabetes. The remedy for grey hair is fairly simple and for diabetes, it is equally simple, less expensive, less time consuming, and even gives that feeling of well being provided of course it is detected on time.





  • Over 9% of the adult population have diabetes.
  • 90% of these are type 2 diabetics.
  • There is an increasing number of children developing type 2 diabetes.
  • In 2012, 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes.
  • World Health Organisation predict that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
  • Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use will prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.


What is diabetes?


It is a chronic disease that occurs either when the Pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels. Patients with sustained uncontrolled blood sugar levels are likely to develop serious complications such as nerve damage and damage to blood vessels.


Type 1 Diabetes: is otherwise known as childhood diabetes and its cause is not known.


Type 2 Diabetes: occurs in adults but new studies show that children and teenagers are now developing type 2 diabetes due to excess body weight and inactivity.


Symptoms of diabetes: thirst, excessive urination, constant hunger, vision changes and fatigue.

Many complications have set in before the patient discovers they have type 2  diabetes.





What are the common consequences of diabetes?


Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

  • Diabetes increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy or maculopathy which leads to blindness. This occurs when the blood vessels leak in that  important area of the eye called the Macula. Loss of central vision (Blindness) is self explanatory to most of us and something many believe only happens to others. However the implications of blindness only hits home when patients are faced with loosing their driving licence due to blindness. For me as a professional optometrist, it is extremely upsetting to have to break the news to a patient that they can no longer drive because they have irreversible damage to their eyes caused by diabetes. Of course there are wider implications to this including, managing to live independently and carry out simple tasks that we all take for granted.
  • Other complications worth mentioning include, foot ulcers, possible leg amputation as well as increased risk of stroke and heart disease and kidney failure.
  • The overall risk of death doubles if you have diabetes.


So what message do I want to get out there to you the reader?


  • Please take the diagnosis of diabetes seriously.
  • Seek professional advise on appropriate diet and exercise and stick to that plan.
  • Ask questions from the health care professionals and seek clarification on matters that may not be fully clear to you.
  • Listen to your practice nurse. Your Optometrist, your podiatrist and your GP.
  • Have an Eye Examination at least every two years
  • Early detection is key.
  • The answer is not in a tablet or in a pair of glasses.
  • The answer is in a balanced diet and regular exercise and maintaining it.
  • A balanced diet is made up of Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fat, Minerals , Vitamins and Water.
  • Consuming too much of any one of these nutrients tips the balance and this is what leads to diabetes.
  • Everything in moderation including FAT and Some Sugar and a little common sense is all that is required.


For more information on our diabetic eye screening clinics, phone 071-9169090