Routine eye tests can help detect diabetes and other health conditions before symptoms start to show, according to experts.
In the lead up to World Diabetes Day (14 November), advice is being offered by Specsavers’ Home Visits service, which sees opticians travelling across the country to provide full and thorough eye tests for those who are unable to visit their opticians unaccompanied due to illness or disability.
With half of diabetes sufferers being aged 65 or over, The Home Visits teams can play a significant role in the early diagnosis of diabetes in older people.
Dawn Roberts, Specsavers Home Visits clinical director, says: ‘There’s a misconception that regular eye tests are only for people who have noticed a change in their sight, but that’s just a small part of why they are so important. They are able to detect a whole host of health problems, with the early signs of diabetes being a prime example.
‘With half of diabetes sufferers being over 65, it’s particularly important that older people have regular eye tests to ensure that the warning signs of diabetes are spotted as early as possible.
‘That’s why Specsavers is proud to offer home visits to anybody unable to leave their home on their own, including residents of care homes. We’re proud to provide such a service and want to ensure everybody is given the due care they deserve when it comes to their eyes, regardless of age.’
Diabetes and your eyes
Here, Dawn explains more about diabetes and your eyes.
‘A complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy which can occur when high blood sugar levels over a long period of time damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye,’ explains Dawn. ‘If left untreated it can cause sight loss. In its early stages diabetic retinopathy usually doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms, so an eye test can pick it up before you do.’
As the condition affects small blood vessels in the eye, damaging the retina, your optometrist can look for early characteristic changes, such as tiny leaks from these damaged vessels.
Dawn says: ‘As retinopathy develops, blood vessels can weaken, bulge or leak into the retina and can be referred to as non-proliferative retinopathy. However, if it worsens, some vessels can close off which causes new ones to grow, or proliferate, on the surface of the retina. This is known as proliferative retinopathy and can lead to problems with your vision and even sight loss.’
For more information on Specsavers Home Visits and request a home eye test visit www.specsavers.co.uk/home-eye-tests.