Diabetes Awareness Day – What’s It Got To Do With Eyes?

  • Around 4 million people are living with diabetes in the UK.
  • 700 people are diagnosed with the condition every day.
  • And since 1996 the number of people living with diabetes has doubled.


14th November marks World Diabetes Awareness Day – a day to educate the global population about this widespread disease, its impact and ways to detect and prevent its onset.  Launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and IDF, the campaign was created to highlight the growing health threat of the ‘diabetes epidemic’ and its message now reaches over a billion people across 160 countries.

You might be wondering why Hodd Barnes and Dickins – an optician’s practice – is marking this diabetes awareness day.  What does diabetes have to do with your eyes?

Perhaps it will surprise you to discover that diabetes is as much an optical issue as a general health one.  For instance, did you know that a comprehensive eye examination is one of the most effective ways of identifying the earliest symptoms of diabetes?  And were you aware that diabetes can have a huge impact on your eyes’ health, causing vision-threatening diabetic eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataracts and glaucoma?

If you’re suffering from type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes, you are at risk of contracting diabetic eye disease which – if left untreated – could cause damage to your retina, macular, optic nerve, lens, or even result in blindness.  At Hodd Barnes and Dickins it’s our business to keep your eyes in good health, so we’re marking World Diabetes Awareness Day to educate our patients about the different types of diabetic eye disease and how they can affect your vision…


  • Diabetic Retinopathy

A leading cause of blindness in British adults, diabetic retinopathy occurs when chronically high blood sugar affects the blood vessels in your retina.  Damage incurred can lead these vessels to bleed or leak fluid, resulting in distorted vision and even severe loss of eyesight.  Diabetic retinopathy has no visible early symptoms – the only way to prevent the diabetic eye disease is for your optometrist to spot the first signs in a comprehensive eye examination before the condition causes permanent vision loss.

If you do notice blurry or double vision, dark or floating spots, pain or pressure in your eyes or trouble with your peripheral vision, we’d recommend seeing one of our optometrists as soon as possible.

  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME)

A result of diabetic retinopathy, DMA is the build-up of fluid in the macular, causing swelling and blurred vision.

  • Cataract

This common condition causes your eye’s lens to cloud and is up to 5 times more likely to develop in adults suffering from diabetes.

  • Glaucoma

This vision-threatening disease affects the optic nerve, damaging the connection between the eye and the brain.  People with diabetes have double the risk of contracting glaucoma.

Unfortunately, these conditions often go undetected until it’s too late, so it’s vitally important you book a comprehensive eye test at least once a year to enable us to spot the first symptoms.  A typical examination will test your eyes for visual acuity, internal pressure, pupil dilation and general retinal health.  These checks enable our optometrist to assess changes in your retinal blood vessels, spot any leaks or swelling and identify damage to your lens or nerve tissue.  The earlier you are diagnosed, the more likely we’ll be able to treat and protect your eyes against vision loss.

In addition to regular eye examinations, you can also prevent the onset of diabetic eye disease by keeping your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible, taking your prescribed medication and staying healthy with plenty of exercises and a nutritious diet.

If you’re diabetic, have a diabetic relative or are interested in finding out more, visit the practice this diabetes awareness day and chat to one of our optometrists about identifying and preventing diabetic eye disease.