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Diabetic Retinopathy – An Overview!

People often think Diabetes is all about abstaining from sugars that elevate the levels of glucose in your blood. They often don”t realize that diabetes can lead to a lot of complications if they don’t take proper precautions in maintaining the sugar levels. In the long run, diabetes can affect the eyes too.

Diabetics can result in Diabetic Retinopathy. When diabetes causes severe eye problems, then this is called diabetic retinopathy. It is a disease that affects the retina causing a threat to the patient’s vision. Chronic diabetics who have had diabetes for more than 20 years develop retinopathy.

How Diabetes Effects Eyes

In the long run, diabetes affects the blood circulation of the retina. In the first phase of diabetic retinopathy the arteries in the retina become weak and they start leaking. This leads to the formation of small, dot-like hemorrhages. The leakage then leads to edema in the retina causing a decrease in the vision.

In the next phase of diabetic retinopathy, the circulation problems result the retina to become ischemic i.e. oxygen deprived. To maintain the normal oxygen levels in the retina, the body develops new fragile vessels. This process is called neo-vascularization. These vessels are so delicate that they bleed easily causing spots, floaters and eventually decreased vision.

In the later phases, the abnormal vessel growth continues and the scar tissue may risk in other serious ophthalmologic problems like glaucoma and retinal detachment.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

The symptoms depend on the severity of this disease. However the common symptoms are

  • Blurred vision depending on the blood sugar levels
  • Flashes and floaters
  • Sudden loss of vision

Diagnosis

People who have had diabetes for more than 10 years should have routine examinations. This will help in detecting this disease for an early treatment. If a patient develops retinopathy the Endocrinologist refers him to vitreo retinal surgeons who are specialist in treating this disease.

Treatment

Depending on the phase of the disease, Diabetic Retinopathy is treated in many ways focusing on specific problem that requires attention. The retinal surgeon will advise the patient to undergo several tests like retinal photography, ultra sound imaging of the eye and fluorescein angiography to map the progression of the disease and give appropriate treatment.

The vitreo retinal surgeons treat the problem of neo-vascularization with a laser surgery called pan retinal photocoagulation (PRP). The laser in the PRP destroys the retinal tissue which is oxygen deprived. It stops the continuous growth of fragile new vessels and seals the leaking vessels.

Another surgery called Vitrectomy is used to treat vitreous hemorrhage. Through this surgery the surgeon removes Vitreous and blood from the eye to replace it with clear salt solution. They may also have to cut the strands of the vitreous attached to the retina thus cutting down the risk of retinal detachment.

In the case of actual retinal detachment the surgeons have to surgically reattach the retina to its original position.

Prevention

The best way to prevent eye problems is to maintain blood sugar levels with proper balance diet and exercise. Apart from that routine eye examinations may help the doctor to predict the possibilities of eye complications.

Now that you have known all about diabetic retinopathy, I hope that you would take care of your eyes to maintain your vision and have lovely eyes!

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