Diabetic dad goes blind at 32 after eating junk food, smoking and ignoring doc's advice

A diabetic has lost his sight at the age of 32 after smoking, gorging on junk food and failing to regularly see his GP.

Dad-of-two Michael Betteridge will never see his children again, despite undergoing laser eye surgery and an operation to try and save the sight in his left eye.

Devastated, the 32-year-old, is urging others to listen to the medical advice or risk the same fate.

He started noticing blurry vision in May last year and was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.

The condition, also known as diabetic eye disease, is where the retina is damaged by high blood sugar levels.

By September 2015 Michael was blind – and now faces the prospect of losing a foot.

The former labourer, of Portsea, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at six years old, but said he thought he was invincible.

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"I got to about 14 or 15 years-old and wanted to be one of the lads, doing everything they were doing, eating everything they were," he said.

"I was eating chocolate and crisps, fizzy drinks – just rubbish. I thought I could live forever.

"When my eyesight was starting to go I was still getting on top of roofs for work. I was thinking "it's just blurry eyes" – but it wasn't."

But in May last year when Michael started to get blurry vision, prompting him to contact doctors who had been chasing him to attend check-up appointments at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

But his sight deteriorated and by September he was completely blind.

He suffered diabetic retinopathy – damage to the retina caused by diabetes – which is the most common cause of blindness in working-age people.

Listen to the doctors and keep up with your appointments – it will pay off. Don’t eat rubbish and smoke – smoking shrinks the blood vessels behind the eye, it is the worst thing to do

Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels in the retina, damaging it and severely affecting eyesight.

Michael said: "Listen to the doctors and keep up with your appointments – it will pay off.

"Don't eat rubbish and smoke – smoking shrinks the blood vessels behind the eye, it is the worst thing to do.

"I've just got to watch out now and keep the right diet."

One of the hardest things for the ex-labourer is not seeing his children.

He added: "I picture them as they are now. When they grow up they'll still be little kids to me."

His son Michael, six, and daughter Hallie Sinden, 15, now help him complete daily tasks around the house.

Just recently when helping his dad, little Michael said: 'Dad uses my eyes.'


Michael's partner, Charlotte Sinden, 31, added: "I didn't know it could happen.

"It's hard but we get through it – we've got to, life goes on. There's nothing anyone can do.

"He's doing better than I thought, he's got lots of friends around him."

Michael is now eating healthily but will remain blind and still faces the chance of losing a foot.

He added: "In my last two check-ups my blood sugars have been coming down. We're on the right road now.

Daniel Howarth, head of care at charity Diabetes UK, said: "This serious condition, if left unmanaged, can lead to a wide range of devastating complications.

"But having regular health checks can help minimise risks of developing complications."

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