World Diabetes Day - 'Dealing with diabetes and sight loss has really been hard for my mental health'

Posted: Saturday 13 November 2021 at 14:14

Sight loss is a common complication for patients with diabetes and is caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the retina at the back of the eye.

But, many people with diabetes remain unaware of the risks to their sight when they are diagnosed with the condition.

To mark World Diabetes Day (Sunday 14 November), we asked those living with the condition what they wish they'd known before they were diagnosed, to help support others.

What do you wish you knew before you were diagnosed?

"I wish I knew that having high blood sugar levels increased the risk of complications," said Shona, who has diabetic macular ischemia (DMI) – a complication of diabetic retinopathy.

The 32-year-old also said she wished she'd known the emotional impact the condition would have on her. "Dealing with diabetes or any long term health condition is hard to deal with" she said. "However, for me dealing with diabetes and sight loss has really been hard for my mental health and I have struggled significantly and have had to get help and support from professionals."

Shona also highlighted the dangers of lowering your blood sugar levels too quickly, which can increase the risk of sight loss.

Berni, who has diabetic macular oedema (DMO) - the biggest cause of sight loss in diabetics, said she wished she’d been aware of the wider impact of her diagnosis. She said: “Diabetes and sight loss impacts not just me but my family and friends too.”

What have you learnt?

Although the emotional impact of living with diabetes-related sight loss has been hard for Shona, she has found great comfort from those around her. "You never have to do deal with situations on your own," she said. "There are always people around you to help and support you. Family, friends and people going through the same situations as you."

Berni agreed, adding: “There are so many people out there to help. The Macular Society have really helped me get back on my feet when I thought I never would. Sight loss even though it’s horrid does not mean that my life is over I feel I can still have an active role to play in society and I definitely have a life worth living.”

Berni said the condition has also taught her a lot about herself.

 “I am stronger, braver and more determined than I thought I was. Diabetes is difficult to manage with sight loss, but is doable with the right equipment and support.”

Thankfully both Shona and Berni have been able to access support. However, a Macular Society survey conducted earlier this year, revealed the lack of information provided to those newly diagnosed with diabetic macular oedema (DMO), including where they could access support.

The Macular Society has a number of support services available to those living with diabetes-related sight loss, including a virtual support group, which meets on the third Wednesday of every month. The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 17 November October at 7pm. If you're interested in joining, you can email our Working Age and Young Peoples' Service manager, Colin Daniels at colin.daniels@macularsociety.org

For more information about our support services call us on 0300 3030 111 or visit www.macularsociety.org/support