Micheál shares his story on World Diabetes Day
Micheál Smith (49) lives in Belfast with his wife Sharon. He has type 1 Diabetes and has been insulin dependent since the age of 13. In 2016 Micheál was diagnosed with Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, a condition that is caused by the retinal blood vessels becoming damaged or blocked. When these changes affect a large area of your retina, blood supply to the retina is reduced. This causes problems with vision.
Micheál was first alerted to his eye condition when he went for a quick check up at a mobile screening unit when living in Bangor Co. Down. From that point he was called for regular check-ups to monitor his eye health.
His condition stabilised but later that year, Micheál experienced sudden sight loss in his left eye one evening whilst driving home from work.
He went straight to A and E at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where they operated within hours to repair a detached retina and to save Micheál’s sight in that eye.
Micheál explains: “I’d recently changed from insulin injections to an insulin pump and my levels were the best they had been ever. The detached retina was a big shock but I was so grateful for the medical team who repaired the damage to my eye and who monitored me so closely from the point of my diagnosis. For me, looking after my eye health because of my diabetes is an ongoing thing. I’ve had three retinal haemorrhages since June of this year (2023) and I receive regular laser sessions.”
He added: “I’m grateful to the mobile screening crew for picking up my eye condition that day. Ever since I’ve been fastidious in keeping my hospital appointments but I know there are maybe those who don’t. I know if I hadn’t gone to that mobile review that day in Bangor, my eye condition wouldn’t have been spotted and I would have surely lost some of my vision. I received treatment to prevent the loss to my eyesight and for that I’m grateful every day.”
“The biggest change to my lifestyle has been me stopping playing football. I was an avid footballer but I was advised to stop playing to protect my vision. I’ve had a glimpse into what a loss in my vision might be like and who knows what the future holds for me in that respect but whatever that is, I know that I’m in really good hands with the medical staff who look after me in the Royal Victoria Hospital, and especially the team at Rathlin at Knockbracken Healthcare.”