Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that can damage and weaken blood
vessels, including those in the
retina In the back of your eye, the retina records images of objects and
sends information about the images to your brain for interpretation. In
diabetic retinopathy, the weakened blood vessels may begin to leak blood or
fluid vessels and develop tiny, fragile branches and fragile branches and scar
tissue that can blur your vision or distort the information that the retina
sends to your brain.
People who suffer from diabetic retinopathy (DR) report
significant restrictions resulting from their condition.
Retinopathy usually affects both
eyes (although unequally) at the same time. If it is not treated, retinopathy
can lead to blindness. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you
are to eventually develop retinopathy. Many people who have had diabetes
for more than 15 years have some degree of retinopathy. Vision impairment caused
by the disease often leads to dependency in activities of daily living, social
isolation, and reduced physical activity.
There are three stages of diabetic retinopathy, each characterized by damaged
blood vessels and abnormal blood vessel growth: non-proliferative, macular
edema, and proliferative.
Non-proliferative - also known as background retinopathy, non-proliferative
diabetic retinopathy is characterized by damaged blood vessels and retinal
Macular edema - characterized by fluid collection in the macula (a tiny
area on the retina).
Proliferative - characterized by new blood vessel growth on the retina.
These blood vessels break and bleed into the vitreous (the clear substance
that fills the center portion of the eye), causing cloudiness and impaired
vision. In addition, the new blood vessels can cause scar tissue development,
which, in turn, can lead to retinal detachment and blindness.
Risk factors for Diabetic Retinopathy includes:
Poor diabetic control
Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes
The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic
retinopathy. Nearly half of all people with diabetes will develop some degree of
diabetic retinopathy during their lifetime.During pregnancy, diabetic
retinopathy may also be a problem for women with diabetes. It is recommended
that all pregnant women with diabetes have dilated eye
trimester to protect their vision.
Diabetic retinopathy may not cause obvious symptoms in the early stages, or
you may notice a gradual blurring of your vision.As the disease
progresses, the abnormal blood vessels can begin to bleed or leak fluid.This leaking can cause your sight to become hazy, you may see spots in front of
your eyes, or you may suddenly lose your vision completely.
See your ophthalmologist immediately if you experience any of the following
Seeing spots in front of your eyes
Fluctuating vision - your vision alternates between being clear and
Sudden loss of vision
Pain in your eyes
The only way to detect retinopathy is through an examination by an
Make sure your ophthalmologist knows you have diabetes.He or she will regularly monitor your eyes for changes that are characteristic
of retinopathy.If you have diabetes, have an eye examination every
year (or more often if your doctor recommends it ) to ensure that any problem
can be treated early, before your vision is impaired.
glucose of 126 mg/dL or greater is associated with an increased risk of
diabetes complications affecting the eyes, nerves, and kidneys.
Your doctor will examine your
retina with an
ophthalmoscope to look for any abnormal blood vessels of bleeding.To find
if any blood vessels are leaking, he/she may take photographs of the
retina and the blood vessels of the retina. Before taking the photographs,
the doctor injects a special dye into a vein in your arm. The dye travels
through your bloodstream to your eyes, where it highlights the blood vessels and
can reveal if any are leaking.
If you are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, you
will need to have regular eye examinations at least once a year to monitor the
health of your eyes. Maintaining strict control of the level of glucose in
your blood may help slow the progress of the disease . In
some cases, surgery is recommended.
Ask your doctor that you can expect
from such surgery, including the recovery time, level of pain, or effects on
An ophthalmologist can seal leaking blood vessels
in the retina using small bursts of high-energy light (laser beams).If
the retinopathy is caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels, the laser bursts
are scattered across the surface of the retina to seal off the abnormal blood
vessels and prevent damage to the eye.This procedure, which is painless,
may be done in the doctor's office, in an outpatient facility, or in a hospital.
If the clear, jellylike substance that fills the
eye( called the vitreous gel) is clouded by blood from leaking vessels,
laser surgery cannot be used to treat the retinopathy. Instead, cryotherapy (freezing) may be used to freeze the retina and shrink the abnormal
blood vessels. This procedure is performed using local anesthesia and may be done in the doctor's office, in an outpatient facility, or
in the hospital. You may experience some discomfort or mild pain.
For diabetic retinopathy that is at an advanced
remove the blood -filled vitreous gel and replace it with a clear solution. This procedure, called vitrectomy, can reverse the loss of vision caused by the
accumulation of blood in the vitreous gel. Vitrectomy is performed in an
operation room using local or general anesthesia.
procedure may take several hours and can cause discomfort. The recovery
time is extremely variable and depends on how severe the problem was before the
Reattaching the retina
If scar tissue pulls on the retina
and detaches it from the back of the eye, blindness can result. Your
ophthalmologist may recommend surgery to reattach the retina. This
procedure is performed in an operating room using local or general anesthesia. The procedure may take several hours and can cause discomfort. This
surgery may be combined with vitrectomy or laser surgery.
Early detection and treatment of retinopathy can often prevent serious vision
problems. If you have diabetes, the best way to prevent retinopathy may be
control the level of glucose in your blood. Test your blood glucose level regularly with diabetic test strips and your blood glucose meter, take meditation if necessary, rigorously follow your
diet plan, and exercise regularly. You should also make sure your
pressure is under control. People who have both diabetes and
high blood pressure have more problems with their eyes.
Dated 18 November 2011