An Ophthalmologist, Dr Adeniyi Irefin, says diabetes increases risk of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness, if care is not taken.
Irefin, who works with SeeWell Ophthalmic Eye Clinic, Ibadan, said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Ibadan, Oyo State.
He said: “Visual impairment among diabetic patient is a major public health problem that needs to be addressed.
“Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can affect people with diabetes. These conditions include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma
“Cataract is the most common reversible cause of vision impairment in people with diabetes, while diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness.
“Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina.
“These blood vessels can swell and leak, or they can close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina,” he said.
The ophthalmologist identified some of the causes of diabetic eye diseases to include poor blood sugar control, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and smoking.
“High blood sugar can lead to problems like blurry vision, cataracts, glaucoma and retinopathy.
“If the blood glucose stays high over time, it can damage the tiny blood vessels in the back of the eyes.
“Damaged blood vessels may leak fluid and cause swelling, and these vessels can bleed into the middle part of the eye, lead to scarring or cause dangerously high pressure inside the eye.
“Most serious diabetic eye diseases begin with blood vessel problems,” he said.
Irefin said that some symptoms of diabetic eye disease might include blurry vision and poor colour vision.
“Most times, there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease.
“You may have no pain and no change in your vision, as damage begins to grow inside your eyes, particularly with diabetic retinopathy.
“However, some of those symptoms that may show are dark areas, poor colour vision, spots, which are called floaters, and flashes of light.
“The symptoms may not show until it is too late; this is why we place emphasis on regular eye screening by qualified professionals,” he said.
According to him, loss of vision and blindness in diabetic patients is preventable with routine eye screening and effective management of the underlying diabetes.
“Diabetes can cause damage to the eyes which can lead to poor vision or even blindness.
“But with proper management of diabetes, steps can be taken to prevent diabetic eye diseases.
“In addition to making good lifestyle choices to manage diabetes, it is important to see an eye care professional once a year for a complete eye examination,” he said.