• Kathrin Ratcliffe

Seeing Clearly Into the Future - Eye Care in Diabetes

Don’t run out and buy a new pair of glasses as soon as you notice you have blurred vision.

There are two possible reasons for having eye sight problems when you have diabetes.


Reason 1:

It is a temporary challenge that develops when you blood sugar levels are too high.

High blood sugar levels can cause the lens of the eye to swell, which changes your ability to see. To correct this kind of blurred vision, you need to get your blood sugar back into the target range. Most people living with diabetes should aim to get their sugar levels between 4-7mmol/L before meals and less than 10mmol/l 1-2hours after meals.

Ask your doctor what your personal target should be.


Reason 2:

If high blood sugar levels occur often, it can eventually lead to permanent damage to the eyes. This is what we aim to prevent by keeping sugar levels well managed from diagnosis. You will need to see an Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist) for an assessment of your eyes as soon as possible. They will be able to advise you regarding management and treatment of your eyes going forward.



Some guidelines to follow to ensure good eye care when you are living with Diabetes are the following:

Society for Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes of South Africa (SEMDSA) recommend the following for people living with type 2 diabetes:

  • Screen your eyes at diagnosis and every 1-2 years thereafter

  • Screen your eyes before you fall pregnant or in your first trimester

The International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) recommend the following for people living with type 1 diabetes:

  • Screen your eyes at the age of 11years old or 2-5years after you are diagnosed (whichever comes first)


As the age-old saying goes... "Prevention is better than cure".

This being said, the best thing you can do to protect your eyes when living with diabetes, is manage your sugar levels and have your eye's assessed according to the guidelines above.





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