Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Eyes Have It

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Eyes Have It

Article excerpt

DIABETES AROUND 750,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed diabetes, according to Diabetes UK. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes can creep up very slowly and are often dismissed as normal tiredness, or part of growing old, but Dr Schallhorn points out that he's diagnosed cases from eye tests.

High blood-sugar related to diabetes can cause problems in the small blood vessels resulting in diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness. An optometrist will be able to spot early characteristic changes, such as tiny leaks from damaged blood vessels.

"Nowhere are the blood vessels more important than in the retina at the back of the eye," explains Dr Schallhorn. "Eyecare professionals can see very early signs of diabetes.

"You don't need to go blind with diabetes; it's treatable and the key is to pick it up early," Dr Schallhorn adds.

Not only that, but the sooner diabetes is detected, the sooner it can be treated or managed, meaning other potential complications - including ulcers, kidney and heart damage - can be prevented too.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE EFFECTS of high blood pressure - a condition which affects one in three UK adults but is often symptomless, and is linked with stroke, heart disease and vascular dementia - can sometimes be seen inside the eye because the force of blood passing through vessels in the retina can cause hypertensive retinopathy.

Blood vessel walls may thicken restricting blood to the retina. In some cases, it becomes swollen and its function is limited, and there may be bleeding behind the eye.

HIGH CHOLESTEROL AND CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS BECAUSE of the high blood flow at the back of the eye, excessive cholesterol - linked to cardiovascular problems - may also be spotted, looking like deposits in the blood vessels. Changes in the patterns of ocular veins and arteries can also be linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke. …

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