Lasers, Fireworks and Big White Flashes – by Sheila
Sheila was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2001. She is experiencing eye problems as a result of diabetes complications, despite taking care of herself.
We diabetics have it drummed into us that we must keep our blood sugar levels under control to ensure that we don’t end up suffering from all those nasty complications, well for years I have. My HbA1c has been pretty good over recent years, usually getting a gold star at my yearly review!
However, despite this I have continued to suffer with eye problems to the extent that more laser surgery was advised at my last check up with the eye clinic, following which I have recently had a series of three sessions of Panretinal laser surgery to try and prevent yet further leakage from those dratted tiny vessels that keep causing problems.
Several hundred at a time of these minute laser shots taking about 20 minutes on each occasion, which although not painful due to the the nice anaesthetic drops they put in, the constant extremely bright light that goes with it really is uncomfortable and difficult to endure. When you eventually walk out of the laser treatment room you can’t see a thing because of this and even the slightest of bright lights for several hours leaves you with flashes and fireworks, especially when you go outside and the sun is shining! I have taken to wearing a rather dubious looking baseball cap with a huge wide peak which together with my tinted glasses does help a bit. They say that you must not drive the rest of the day following these procedures, drive? I can barely walk in a straight line for several hours, it can also actually make you quite nauseous too at times.
Moral of the story is, keep your blood sugar levels well under control! Don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you, just take control of your own life and all will be well…. or not! I had a different Doctor for the last session of the treatment, a nice young lady I had not seen on the unit before. She was lovely, kind and patient and very careful to let me know exactly what she was doing. I was most impressed, until at the end of the session she told me that I really did need to get my blood sugar levels under closer control so that I did not get more of these complications. Well, excuse me, they are under control, yes I have the very occasional spike but very rare these days, and on the whole I pretty much conform to advice given. We discussed this further, as she rightly said I am not hugely overweight, never have been, never been particularly skinny either, just fair to middling as they say, I was found to be diabetic in my forties and very quickly went onto medication and started having the eye problems.
It would appear that I may have had diabetes for many years before diagnosis which accounts for the eye damage now, the damage was done early on and I am now paying for it big time. Yes, it is imperative that we control our blood sugars and try to keep any damage to a minimum but surely it is just as important for everyone to get screened for Diabetes on a regular basis, in some areas of the country there are now Pre-diabetes screening projects which will help here, but I would never have been put forward for that as there was no reason to, not overweight, no other health problems that were known about in fact rarely saw a doctor from one year to another.
So, how do we stop this happening in the future? The NHS obviously can’t afford to spend more on screening everyone every year just in case, but how about a 3 yearly cycle for a full blood test, or even an annual quick check at the local pharmacy, some of which already offer a free test already?
There are lots of options but I guess that what we don’t know about our health might just be more important in the long run than what we do know.