I've always grown up with diabetes

I've always grown up with diabetes.
It's just become part of my life.

But I've never really
thought about side-effects.

They had always been something
you could get but I wouldn't get,

or something I might get in the future
when I was really old rather than now.

There's loads of them, blindness,
amputations, kidney failure,

an increase in heart disease,

there's an increase in most things
if you've got diabetes.

And you're like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It's never gonna happen to me."

In 2004, I was asked to go for a routine
eye test at a hospital in Ealing.

So I turned up
and it was a full-on eye test.

The old eye tests had not
really done much investigation,

whereas this was an actual photograph
of the back of my eye.

What they do
is take a photograph of your retina.

So you put your chin on a ledge

and they put the lens
literally next to your eyeball.

Big flash and they take a photograph.

They blow it up on a screen and they
can see all the detail of your eye,

all the blood vessels.

Then they can work out where there's
a problem, if there is a problem.

And they found out that I had
retinopathy from that photograph.

My understanding of retinopathy

is that it's a problem
with the blood vessels in the retina,

where they're leaking and it's
that leak that has to be sorted out,

because if it gets
near the centre of vision

then it can become dangerous
and can make you go blind.

So with retinopathy you have to try
and stop the leaking blood vessels.

It was actually quite far gone,
which was the scary thing,

so if I'd gone five years earlier,
or two years earlier maybe,

it could have been better, because
they would have caught it sooner.

But I was a heavy smoker at the time,
I was partying and drinking a lot,

smoking a lot and having fun.

And the consultant said to me, "Unless
you give up smoking, you will go blind."

I was like, "What?!" It was
a really stunning thing to be told.

It's just all down to me.

To improve your eyesight
you just have to make lifestyle changes.

I gave up the smoking, obviously,
which was the really big thing.

And it's all about getting your HBA1C
long-term blood sugar down a bit.

I've had no other treatment at all, it's
just been a case of watching what I eat

and living a slightly better life
than I was before.

I've still got background retinopathy
but it's under control.

But if I went back to my old ways,
then it would reappear very quickly,

which is why
you have an eye test every six months.

Because six months is quite a long time
in the health of an eye.