Abu Dhabi: Doctors warn that diabetics are at risk of becoming partially blind and urge yearly check-ups to prevent loss of vision.

"If diabetics control their blood glucose and blood pressure, keep to a strict diet and check their eyesight, the risk of developing retinopathy will lessen dramatically, " said Dr Maha Barakat, consultant endocrinologist, at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of vision loss in adults between 20 to 65.

It is a disease of small blood vessels in the retina where some vessels become weak and bleed, others dry up and disappear, while others grow in places they should not.

"Early diagnosis reduces the risks of vision loss among 90 per cent of diabetic cases in the UAE," said Dr Chris Canning, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-renital surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital in Dubai.

"The longer the person has diabetes the more likely the person is to develop DR," he said.

According to figures provided by the Diabetes Centre, up to 21 per cent of people with diabetes Type 2 have retinopathy when first diagnosed, while others will eventually develop some degree of retinopathy. Almost everyone with Type 1 diabetes has the condition.

Over 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by DR. Glaucoma, cataract, and corneal disease are more common in people with diabetes and contribute to the high rate of blindness.

"A person's vision can disappear instantaneously in DR, without any warning, even if their eyesight was 20/20 before," said Dr Canning.

"Surgery is pretty simple.. and the patient is usually discharged the same day. If they eye is bleeding, the patient may retain his eyesight one or two days after surgery," said the doctor.

The surgery success rate for patients who suffered from bleeding in the eye is up to 90 per cent. Surgery is not necessary if the condition is diagnosed early.

Do you think people are taking enough precautions for their eyes, especially in summer? Should there be more public awareness about regular check ups and eye care in summer? Send us your comments at letter2editor@gulfnews.com or fill in the form bellow to send your comments.