Saturday, June 24, 2006

Diabetes Care - Eyes

Having diabetes means that taking care of your eyes is absolutely essential, and going for routine check-ups to a retinal screening clinic is mandatory.

I went at the beginning of this week to have my eyes tested at a retinal screening clinic that comes to my surgery every six months. It is the least scary thing you could ever have to do at your local surgery. When I went for my appointment I had done just one screening previously, so I had forgotten what happened during the process. This time I went into a specially made retinal screening van, which houses thousands of pounds worth of technical equipment. I was guided to the front of the van and was explained to about what was going to happen, and why.

The reason for which diabetics should have their eyes tested frequently is because of something called Diabetic Retinopathy. This is a progressive eye disease which can cause cataracts, glaucoma and potentially complete blindness if not caught early. This is because the blood vessels in the eye are very small, and bad control can lead to weakening and breaking of the arteries. It is then that the eye cannot get enough blood and oxygen and will start to deteriorate.

During the retinal screening process, some people may have to have eye drops in to dilate their pupils. It was at this news that my photographer said that my pupils were the largest he had ever seen and that I wouldn't need these drops until I was about 60. In most people they need drops from the age of about 35 onwards. Anyway, so I went into a room with the equipment and it was moved closer to me. It looks quite huge, but I am sure that this will change over the next few years. I was asked to put my chin on a rest, my forehead against a bar and to stare at a white dot on the screen in front of me. I had one photo taken and then I was asked to look to the right, and follow a square with my eyes. Another photo was taken. The same was done for the other eye. After this I was given the opportunity to look at the photos that had been taken. It looks just like a yellowy circle with red lines through it. What the photographer is looking for is random red circles and places in which the red lines do not join (broken vessels).

I was told that from first glance my eyes were fine, and things looked OK. But I will have to wait a few weeks for the full results. I shall surely remember to book myself in for the next possible appointment to keep my eyes in check.

The great news is that this can be entirely treatable, as long as you go for regular check-ups with a professional.

Diabetes Care - Eyes