More important than ever to look after ourselves

A reader urges those with diabetes to look after themselves in lockdown.

As we head into winter, it’s more important than ever that we all prioritise looking after ourselves – especially if we have a long-term health condition.

We all know that Type 1 and 2 diabetes can cause many health complications. But did you know that it can also lead to eye issues and vision loss?

In particular, diabetes can cause blood vessels in the retina to become blocked, to leak or to grow incorrectly, causing a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Attending regular screening appointments is something everyone with diabetes can do to look after their health.

During the Covid-19 pandemic some diabetic retinopathy screening services were paused, which was understandably concerning for many people in at-risk groups. Happily, all services in Wales have now started inviting people for screening again. You can travel in and out of local lockdown areas to attend your screening appointment as this is a medical appointment which is a ‘reasonable excuse’ to travel.

We would like to remind people living with diabetes that these appointments are extremely important in preventing avoidable sight loss. The photographs taken enable clinicians to pick up the very earliest signs of disease caused by diabetes in your eyes.

We know that many people are anxious about attending hospitals and clinics at this time, but NHS staff are taking every precaution to keep patients safe, so please do attend any appointments you are invited to.

If you are living with diabetes, make sure you look after your general health as best you can during this time and contact your GP or diabetes team if you feel that your diabetes management, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are not as good as it should be. Seek immediate help from an optician or emergency eye care services if you notice any sudden changes in your vision, such as double vision, blurring, floating bits or flashes in your vision.

To find out more about diabetic retinopathy or for help and advice, contact the Diabetes UK Helpline on 0345 123 2399 or helpline@diabetes.org.uk

Ansley Workman, RNIB Cymru Director and Dai Williams, Diabetes UK Cymru Director

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