How diabetes affected Becca’s vision
‘Moorfields saved my sight’
1 September 2022
Rebecca’s diabetes led to her developing diabetic retinopathy, a sight condition that affects the retina. Thanks to Moorfields she’s been able to have treatment that has helped to stabilise her condition and save her sight.
Rebecca was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 5.
Type 1 diabetes causes the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to become too high.
She manages her condition with insulin injections and by monitoring her blood sugar levels.
Getting diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy
Rebecca was 19, and in her second year at university, when she was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye condition in people with diabetes, particularly those with poor diabetic control.
people in the UK have diabetes
people have their sight seriously affected by diabetes every year
It is caused by high blood sugar levels which, over long periods of time, damage the blood vessels in the retina - the tissue lining at the back of the eye that detects light and allows us to see.
It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Anyone with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is potentially at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
You will not usually notice diabetic retinopathy in the early stages, as it does not tend to have any obvious symptoms until it’s more advanced.
5 years later, Rebecca had begun a career in teaching in London when she noticed her vision was blurry when she looked at the whiteboard from the back of the classroom.
She had an appointment at the opticians and was told that there were severe concerns about both her eyes.
At this point, Rebecca was referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital.
It was at my very first Moorfields eye appointment that I was told, ‘You’re going blind and we need to act now’.
‘My eyesight is now stable’
Rebecca has been under the care of Moorfields since 2014.
Over this time, she’s had laser treatments and injections to help control her condition.
The medical retina team are incredibly knowledgeable and have helped me to understand my condition. They’re able to breakdown complex medical terminology so that patients know what they are dealing with.
Thanks to the treatment of Moorfields, Rebecca’s eye condition is under control.
She continues to have some symptoms including flashes in her vision and difficulty seeing in the dark. Her peripheral vision is also affected.
‘An emotional period’
Being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy was very difficult for Rebecca, partly as she felt she had been as diligent as possible in taking care of her diabetes.
It was an emotional period; I was deeply terrified and felt so alone as no one in my personal life could understand the difficult journey I would have to now embark on.
Whilst dealing with an eye condition was a daunting experience for Rebecca, her experience at Moorfields helped her to manage her anxiety.
Moorfields uphold their duty of care to an extremely high standard - consultants, nurses, admin staff - all those involved in the day-to-day running of a clinic, help to ease the stress that naturally comes with attending an appointment. They help patients not feel alone.
Stronger than you think
Rebecca’s experience has highlighted to her the importance of taking care of your mental health.
She would encourage anyone going through a similar situation to persevere as best you can. Attending appointments can be nerve-wracking but she believes staying committed to her treatment and seeking the support of family and friends has been vital.
Rebecca also recommends speaking to your consultants about any worries you may have as they are extremely understanding and can often alleviate some of your concerns.
You are a lot stronger than you may think you are. Once you get to a point where the condition is stable, it is an amazing feeling.
How you can look after your eyes:
- Take regular breaks from screens
- Eat a balanced diet and if you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
- Seek help to stop smoking
- Don’t shower with your contact lenses in
- Follow the instructions correctly if you’ve been prescribed eye drops
- Get regular eye tests
If you are concerned about your eyes, please speak to your GP or optician in the first instance. They will be able to advise on whether you need more specialist care and refer you as appropriate.