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Everything You Should Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

Everything You Should Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

November 18, 2019

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which excessive sugar level in the blood either reduces or blocks the blood supply to the retina either partially or completely making the retina devoid of essential nutrients.  Uncontrolled blood sugar level or diabetes is the cause of diabetic retinopathy and can be prevented by monitoring your sugar level. If you are diabetic and experience any alteration in your field of vision, you should immediately contact the Retina Specialist in Mumbai

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is the condition of the eye which is caused by diabetes. It is one of the leading causes of blindness. Excess sugar level partially or completely blocks the blood supply to retina leading to its poor nutrition. To compensate for the blocked vessels, new blood vessels start forming but due to the formation of immature blood vessels, there is a leakage of blood and further loss of vision.

What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy usually occur in both eyes. The patient does not experience the symptoms at the initial stage of the disease. Symptoms begin to appear as the condition progresses. Following are the symptoms experienced by the patient suffering from diabetic retinopathy:

  • Vision loss
  • Altered vision
  • Change in color perception
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Floaters in the field of vision
  • Empty areas or dark spots in vision

What Are The Causes Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Blood vessels that supply the blood along with essential nutrients get damaged in diabetic neuropathy. These blood vessels get blocked due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels leading to an alteration in vision. In response to the blocked blood vessels, new vessels begin to develop but these blood vessels are not strong enough and thus are prone to leakage which further worsens the condition. In the initial stage of the disease, microaneurysms ( ballooning of vessels ) tends to develop while in an advanced stage, the new poorly stable abnormal blood vessels are formed.

What Are The Risk Factors For Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is caused due to diabetes and any person suffering from diabetes may develop diabetic retinopathy. However, some people are more prone to develop this condition due to the presence of some risk factors. These risk factors include:

  • Prolonged diabetes
  • Uncontrolled diabetes (high level of sugar for prolong period)
  • High cholesterol
  • Pregnancy
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Smoking tobacco frequently

What Are The Different Types Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Based on the severity of the disease, there are two types of diabetes. Technically, these are not two different types but two stages of the disease. These includes:

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. During this stage, the blood vessels supplying blood to retina weaken leading to the development of microaneurysm. In some cases, a small amount of blood or fluid leaks into the retina. The nerve fibers of the retina begin to swell and, in some cases, macular edema (swelling ) may also occur.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is an advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy. This stage is characterized by the development of new blood vessels due to the complete blockage of the main blood vessels. These new blood vessels are weak leading to leakage.

How Diabetic Retinopathy Is Diagnosed?

The diabetic patients should get their eye checked on a routine basis at least once or twice a year. If you are diabetic and notice sudden changes in vision, do visit the ophthalmologist. Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed through the following procedure:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT): This imaging technique provides high-resolution images of the retina including its thickness. This helps in determining the presence of any leakage into the retina. In the later stage, this technique is used to evaluate the efficacy of the treatment.

Dilated eye exam: During the eye exam, the pupil of the eye is dilated and the doctor looks inside the eye for any abnormality. The doctor looks for abnormalities in retinal blood vessels, changes in IOP, presence of new blood vessels, scar tissue or retinal detachment.

Fluorescein angiography: After dilating the pupil of the eye, a dye is injected into the arm of the patient. If the blood vessels of the retina are leaking, there would be stains of dye on the retina.

What Are The Treatment Options For Diabetic Retinopathy?

Following are the treatment options for diabetic neuropathy:

  • Photocoagulation or Laser treatment on the retina in which the leaking blood vessels are  sealed with the help of laser.
  • Medications, the vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor is injected into the affected eye which prevents the formation of new blood vessels.
  • Vitrectomy which involves removal of vitreous jelly with blood .

What Is Vitrectomy?

Vitrectomy is the procedure that involves the removal of vitreous fluid from the eye and replaces it with clear fluid. The procedure is done through a small incision.

What Is The Prognosis Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Treatment is quite effective in preventing the progression of disease however strict control over the blood sugar is required to reduce the risk of recurrence.

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