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New Discovery screening benefit helps you take care of your sight

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.

Diabetic retinopathy

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.

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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.

Did you know?

Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is key in effectively treating the condition and preventing loss of vision. That is why there is strong evidence for regular eye screening for people who have diabetes.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Search for “Optometrists” in an area close to you.
  3. Select “COVER”
  4. 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!

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.