If you’re living with diabetes, it’s important to have your eyes screened every year. The new diabetic retinopathy screening benefit from Discovery hopes to make this a lot easier.
People who have diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) are at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy. By regularly checking your eyes for the early warning signs of this condition, you can prevent losing your sight down the line. This condition may not immediately show symptoms, which is why regular eye screening is so important.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
If your blood sugar is high for a long time, it can cause damage to blood vessels throughout the body. This damage is more obvious in smaller blood vessels which are more vulnerable – like the tiny blood vessels at the back of the eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is caused when high blood sugar levels cause damage to these delicate blood vessels behind the eyes over time. This ultimately damages the retina – the part of the eye that detects the light that comes into the eye and sends signals to the brain. High blood sugar levels can actually obstruct these tiny vessels and cause them to leak fluid or even to bleed, damaging the retina.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
It is common for the condition to go unnoticed, because symptoms generally arise when the disease reaches an advanced stage.
Once symptoms emerge, you may notice:
- Blurred vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Vision loss
- Shapes floating in your vision (i.e. floaters)
- Dark or missing patches in your vision
Who is at risk of diabetic retinopathy?
All people who have diabetes are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. However, the risk is higher if people:
- Have had diabetes for a long time or have poorly controlled diabetes
- Have high blood pressure
- Have high cholesterol
- Are pregnant
- Are of African ethnic origin
How to minimise your risk
- Keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy food
- Take your medicine as prescribed
- Lose excess weight if you’re overweight
- Reduce or stop smoking
How to claim the benefit
If you are a Discovery member, here’s how to claim the Diabetic Retinopathy Benefit.
- You can find an optometrist who is part of the network by logging on to the Discovery website > Medical aid > Find a doctor > Find a doctor close to you.
- Search for “Optometrists” in an area close to you.
- Select “COVER”
- Deselect “Full network Cover” and choose “Additional/Other Cover” to select “Diabetic Retinopathy Screening”.
Let us know if you’ve tried this new benefit, and what you thought!
What to read next?
What is diabetes? Do you know exactly what diabetes is, and the different types? We outline it so you have all the facts.
We did it! How to claim the Discovery CGM Benefit: A step-by-step guide to claiming the new CGM Benefit.
Your options on the Discovery CGM Benefit: There are 3 CGM / flash glucose monitors available in South Africa. Here’s what they are, and how much they cost.