What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
The retina is a light-sensitive screen situated at the back of our eyes. If a person suffers from diabetes, his blood vessels can get damaged. The retina can also get damaged due to the effect of diabetes on the blood vessels of the particular area of the eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is the term given to the damage to the retina due to complications in the body owing to diabetes mellitus. Treatment is necessary as it can lead to blindness if ignored. Early blindness may be avoided by carrying out routine checks and effectively managing diabetes.
What are the factors which lead to the development of Diabetic Retinopathy?
When a diabetic has unnaturally high sugar, the glucose remains in your blood as it does not get absorbed. It results in damage to your blood vessels which include the ones going to the retina.
In the early stages, the blood vessels start bulging and there is leakage of blood from them. The bulging stage is known as microaneurysms while the leaking of blood is known as hemorrhage. Abnormal new blood vessels are formed in the advanced stages.
Don’t let Diabetes Steal your Sight!
Diabetes can lead to Diabetic Retinopathy causing vision disturbances such as:
Dark Spots In Vision
Impaired colour Vision
- Diabetes can cause Diabetic retinopathy, which is the leading cause of blindness among diabetes
- Studies have shown that 78% of diabetes will develop Diabetic Retinopathy after 15 years of having diabetes
- Get your eyes tested for Diabetic Retinopathy at least once a year Blindness or vision loss due to Diabetic Retinopathy is preventable.
Contact our specialist for more information on the Diabetic Retinopathy screening test
What are the Risk Factors?
Duration of Diabetes
The risk of developing retinopathy increases with the duration the person has been suffering from diabetes.The more the number of years, the greater the risk of developing retinopathy. The statistics stand at 67% for those who have been suffering from type 2 diabetes for the last 10 years but do not take insulin. For the people who have been suffering from type 2 diabetes for 10 years but do take insulin, the figure is 79%.
High Blood sugar level
People who have a persistently high sugar levels run a greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
High blood pressure is another condition which is detrimental to the retinal blood vessels. Therefore people suffering from both the conditions – high blood sugar level and hypertension, are more vulnerable to developing diabetic retinopathy.
Smoking is known to affect the blood vessels; therefore, smokers are at a greater risk of developing blood vessel disorders.
Pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.
What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
- Blurry vision
- Fluctuations in vision.
- Spots or strings floating in your field vision
- Difficulty in colour perception
- Shadows in your vision
- Vision loss
What are the symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy?
Usually, early stages of Diabetic retinopathy do not present any symptoms. It is dangerous as people realize the problem only when symptoms become too pronounced. By that time, the damage is mostly done. Sometimes, the only symptom is the complete and sudden loss of vision.
The common signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are as follows
- Blurring of vision
- Impaired color vision
- Seeing floaters, ( transparent and colorless spots and dark strings ) that seem to float in the patient’s field of vision
- Seeing patches or streaks that block the vision
- poor vision at night
- sudden and total loss of vision in some cases
DR is usually seen in both eyes. As it may lead to a sudden loss of vision without presenting any symptoms earlier, it is important to get yourself regularly screened by attending all the eye examinations scheduled by their doctor. The only way of preventing it is by getting yourself tested regularly. That way the risk will be minimal.
Who comprises the high-risk group for diabetic retinopathy?
People with fluctuating blood sugar levels and the people suffering from long-term diabetes are at the maximum risk for this disease. It is usually seen in people who have been suffering from diabetes for at least 10 years.
However, regular screening of the adult-onset (type 2) diabetics should be done annually after the time of diagnosis. Juvenile onset (type 1) diabetics should be evaluated five years after diagnosis and every year thereafter.
How can diabetic retinopathy be avoided?
Keeping your blood sugar regulated is the best step you can take to prevent diabetic retinopathy. If you suffer from high blood pressure, you will have to keep that under control as well.
Have your eyes examined once a year as even controlled diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy. An annual examination will help the doctor in diagnosing it early and beginning the treatment as soon as possible.
Into how many categories can diabetic retinopathy be classified?
Diabetic retinopathy is divided into two types- either nonproliferative or proliferative.
Nonproliferative retinopathy signifies the early stage, in which the small retinal blood vessels break and leak.
Proliferative retinopathy is characterized by the growth of abnormal blood vessels within the retina. This new growth may cause scarring or retinal detachment which often can lead to vision loss. It may also result in the growth of new blood vessels in the vitreous humor, (the transparent gel filling the back of the eye).
Can diabetic retinopathy be cured?
No. The vision loss is completely irreversible. Only Early treatment can slow down the progression of the condition, but reversing the loss of vision is not possible.
Which diabetic retinopathy treatments are available?
In this case, prevention is the only treatment. If you are prone to high blood pressure, you will have to monitor that as well. Your doctor may suggest vitrectomy if the blood starts leaking into the vitreous humor. Many experiments related to the treatment of the condition are going on for finding a suitable treatment.