Diabetics – You should read this!

An image of background Diabetic retinopathy

Mild background Diabetic Changes

I had a lady in for an eye test today, complaining that her “glasses are not as good as they used to be”, a fairly common complaint. But nobody ever thinks that their eyes are not as good as they used to be- they always blame the spectacles.

This lady is a Type II diabetic, and ONCE has an issue when she felt unwell after being dilated with eye drops for retinal photography, so she has never had it done since!!

That was before 2009, though we are unsure when she may have had the issue. It was before we ever first saw her. I have since dilated her – in 2010, and she has no complaints about that, no recollection actually, but she is still of the opinion that the dilating drops “do not agree with her”, so she has not attended any of the National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening (NDRS) appointments that she has been asked (or invited??) to attend. She freely admits that, at the time she had a “touch” of vertigo, which may have been a contributory  issue. There are ways to ensure that the drops have little, if any effect on the body as a whole (side effects) – basically by squeezing on the punctae- little holes where the tears drain from in the eyelids near the nose – if we “occlude” those, there will  be little or no drug getting into the bloodstream only the eyes!

She was supposed to return to us in 2011 to have a dilated fundus exam, but she collected the spectacles, and confirmed she would make a convenient appointment, but despite reminders, she never did. We can only advise you to have checks, but no-one can make you! Now nearly 5 years later she is back, once again with complaints that her spectacles are not as good as they used to be.

Diabetic Eye disease is the most common cause of BLINDNESS in the developed world, and therefore should not be ignored (It won’t happen to me) – but it might. This lady has very small pupils, which significantly hampers the view into her eyes, but even if the view was not hindered, dilated fundus examination is important to visualise as much of the retina (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye) as possible. Her GP and the National Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Service seem either unconcerned, or may be unaware of her non attendance.

Come ON folks – if the offer of free screening is available, you should take them up on it –  (they are not doing it to be nice to the you) – they are doing it because early detection and treatment SAVES MONEY! – Blindness costs the state an awful lot of money!

Personally, I would not really care how much the NDRS costs the HSE / government each year, nor how much money it might save the state – if it stopped ME from going blind, the entire screening program would have been money well spent! In my opinion.

But no-one can force you to have the required checks, though, this time she will not be getting her spectacles until she has been dilated and thoroughly examined!

Unfortunately, sometimes it is the only way – but she may never return to collect the spectacles…. You can lead a horse to water…….

Update: She was in, to collect her new spectacles, and dilated, and there were no signs of any significant diabetic changes to her retinae, but 5 years is a long time – Diabetics should have their eyes checked somewhere on at least an annual basis.


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