Diabetes symptoms: Why you should never ignore ‘bloodshot’ eyes

Diabetes symptoms: Why you should never ignore ‘bloodshot’ eyes

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is a serious, and complicated, health condition. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is far more common, making up 90 percent of cases in the UK. Put simply, diabetes is a condition where people have too much sugar in their blood, and struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels. However high blood sugar can cause severe complications, including sight loss. Do you know when to see a doctor about diabetes-related eye conditions?

According to Diabetes UK, the number of people living with diabetes in Britain is climbing: 4.9 million people have a diabetes diagnosis, but an estimated 13.6 million are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In order to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, you should embrace a healthy lifestyle including eating a low blood sugar diet, and trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Failing to manage your diabetes can lead to serious health complications, including blindness.

Having bloodshot eyes is a warning sign that high blood sugar is threatening your eyesight.

If you have high blood sugar – hypoglycemia – as a result of type 2 diabetes, this can affect your eyes.

This is because high blood sugar affects your blood vessels, which eventually can affect the vessels in the back of your eye.

Diabetic retinopathy is the name of the condition affecting the blood vessels in your retina.

In the worst cases, if left untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Your retina is the layer at the back of your eye that translates light into electrical signals, and then sends those signals to the brain so you can see images.

The retina needs a healthy supply of blood to function properly so it has a network of small blood vessels.

According to the NHS, there are three main ways in which high levels of blood sugar can affect the eyes. These are:

  • Background retinopathy – tiny bulges develop in blood vessels, which may bleed slightly but don’t usually affect your vision.
  • Pre-proliferative retinopathy – more severe and widespread changes affect the blood vessels, including more significant bleeding into the eye.
  • Proliferative retinopathy – scar tissue and new blood vessels, which are weak and bleed easily, develop on the retina, this can result in some loss of vision.

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If you have diabetes, or have been told you are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and you experience blood shot or painful eyes, see your doctor.

Usually diabetic retinopathy doesn’t have any symptoms until it becomes very advanced, so detecting it early is key, and could save your vision.

Early signs could be picked up at a yearly eye screening, which all diabetics over the age of 12 should have.

However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s time to speak to your doctor:

  • Vision getting worse
  • Sudden vision loss
  • ‘Floaters’ – seeing shapes
  • Blurred vision
  • Bloodshot eyes

You can reduce your risk of developing issues with your eyesight by managing your diabetes well, and avoiding high blood sugar levels.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol can also exacerbate diabetes and cause more complications, so following a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your weight is ideal.

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