Diabetic Retinopathy 101 A Detailed Guide

Diabetic Retinopathy 101: A Detailed Guide

Not many people are aware of this fact but diabetes can lead to a serious vision complication called diabetic retinopathy. Since this ailment interferes with your body’s ability to use and store sugar (glucose), it can lead to certain health conditions that can be rather damaging to the body, especially the eyes. Diabetes damages the small blood vessels throughout the body over time, including the retina. The tiny blood vessels leak blood and other fluids in the eye, leading to swelling of retinal tissue. This makes your vision blurred or cloudy.

This calls for getting diabetic retinopathy treatment at earliest. Usually, this complication impacts both eyes. The longer a person has been diabetic for, the more the chances of developing this eye ailment. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can worsen into blindness.

What Happens in Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic patients experience long periods of high blood sugar. During this, fluid gathers in the lens inside the eye responsible for focusing. This accumulation of fluid alters the curvature of the lens that brings changes in the vision. After the blood sugar levels are controlled, the lens returns to its original shape with improved vision.

Those patients who can control their blood sugar level can slow and prevent the development of this eye condition.

Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy happens to have four stages:

  • Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy

In this stage, microaneurysms occur. These are small areas of balloon-like swelling in the tiny blood vessels of the retina.

  • Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy

In this stage, the blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina are blocked.

  • Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy

More blood vessels get blocked in this stage, resulting in blockage of blood supply to the retina. These areas then send signals to the body for growing new blood vessels for the purpose.

  • Proliferative Retinopathy

The condition reaches an advanced level at this stage. The signals sent by the retina for new blood vessel growth stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. They are fragile and abnormal. They grow along the surface of the vitreous gel. The gel fills the inside of the eye. These vessels do not cause vision loss or any other symptoms. However, they have thin walls that can leak blood. If they do, it can lead to severe vision loss or blindness.

Risk Factors of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Diabetes: Those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person suffers from diabetes, the more likely he/she is to develop this condition.
  • Race: African Americans and Hispanic are at greater risk of developing this diabetic retinopathy.
  • Family History: Cases have been reported of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy due to their family history.
  • Medical Conditions: People with high cholesterol and high blood pressure are at increased risk of suffering from this condition.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Here are some symptoms of diabetic retinopathy:

  • Having blurred vision
  • Seeing floaters or spots
  • Difficulty in seeing at night
  • Having an empty or dark spot in the center of your vision.

Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy

The diabetic retinopathy treatment in Dubai depends on how far the disease has progressed. Some patients of diabetic retinopathy might need laser surgery for sealing the leaking blood vessels and prevent leakage of other blood vessels. An optometry doctor might inject medications into the eye for discouraging inflammation and the formation of new blood vessels.

Those with advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy might require a surgical procedure to both replace and remove the gel-like fluid in the back of the eye, the vitreous. Sometimes the repair of retinal detachment requires surgery.  It is the separation of the light-receiving lining in the back of the eye.

You can slow down and prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy by:

  •       Avoiding alcohol and smoking
  •      Controlling high blood pressure
  •      Following a strict healthy diet
  •      Taking your prescribed medication
  •      Regular exercise

With laser treatment, photocoagulation, the leakage of blood and fluid is stopped into the retina. Small burns are created in the areas with abnormal blood vessels using a laser beam of light. This seals the leaks. As said earlier, the treatment method depends on the extent of the disease. The goal is to slow and stop the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Regular monitoring is the only method in the early stages of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

If you are in Dubai, you can significantly control the progression of this disease by strictly following your doctor’s advice at the Eye Consultant regarding diet and exercise. 

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