Diabetic retinopathy refers to damage of blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) as a result of high blood sugar levels. It is actually a complication of diabetes that affects the eye.
There are two main types or stages of diabetic retinopathy:
- Early diabetic retinopathy: also called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy in which new blood vessels are not proliferating or growing. It is the more common and less severe type of diabetic retinopathy.
- Advanced diabetic retinopathy: also known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy in which damaged blood vessels get blocked or closed and new abnormal vessels start growing. This condition can progress to a more severe type.
Increased amounts of sugar levels in the blood can cause blockage of tiny blood vessels that supply the retina and can lead to a decrease in vision.
- Increased floaters (dark floating spots) in vision
- Having a blurry vision
- Decreased or impaired vision
- Poor night vision
- Colours appear to be faded out
- Losing vision
- Fluctuations in vision
Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy involves:
- Review of signs and symptoms
- Medical history
- Comprehensive eye exam which includes several tests like retinography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography and indirect biomicroscopy of the eye fundus.
Preventive measures for diabetic retinopathy involves:
- Control blood sugar levels
- Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control
- Choose a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise and a healthy diet
- Avoid smoking and alcohols
- Routine eye exams.
- The most important part of the treatment of diabetic retinopathy is to control your blood sugar levels. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, controlling blood sugar levels can help in causing further vision problems. In later or advanced stages, controlling sugar levels help in preventing the condition from worsening.
- Eye injections are used that may help in reducing or blocking the growth of new blood vessels.
- Vitrectomy: it is a surgical procedure used to blood from vitreous (middle of the eye) and scar tissues from the retina.
- Laser surgery is also used to treat the growth of new blood vessels.
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