Diabetic retinopathy develops by the changes occurring in the retina’s blood vessels. There are many changes which can cause this condition to happen. The blood vessels can grow abnormally on the surface of the retina, get swollen or leak fluid. Because the symptoms are not always noticeable in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, annual retina screenings are recommended to help detect early warning signs and prevent long-term damage. This damage needs to be assessed as soon as possible to prevent permanent vision loss. Below are some of the points about Diabetic Retinopathy that you should be aware of –
1) People who are most susceptible for diabetic retinopathy
People suffering from all types of diabetes (type 1, type 2, and gestational) are at risk. This risk increases the longer a person has diabetes. Between 40 and 45 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy although only about half are aware of it. Retinopathy worsens or goes through rapid onset if the women develop or have diabetes during pregnancy.
2) Retinopathy is mostly undetectable in its early stages
For many people with diabetic retinopathy, there are no early symptoms. There is no pain, no blurred vision, and no ocular inflammation. Patients who present with 20/2 or 6/6 vision can still be suffering from very severe proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This potentially blinding condition can be prevented by having a dilated retinal examination, followed by the treatment recommended by your eye surgeon.
3) The Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy to look for
A person suffering from Diabetic Retinopathy is likely to have blurred vision, making it hard to do things like read or drive. In some cases, the vision will get better worse during the day. Secondly, peripheral blood vessels become obliterated. Their closure hinders supply of nutrients and oxygen to retina. This results in the development of brush like new fragile vessels which finally bleed and cause cloudiness of vision, blind spots, floaters or even sudden loss of vision in the late stage. Usually, in early stages, Diabetic Retinopathy does notproduce visual symptoms strong enough to get noticed, which is dangerous because it is silently damaging the retina.Hence a diabetic must go for regular eye examination.
4) How diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed
Since in early stages of diabetes, there are no symptoms of any eye problems, regular eye check-ups by an eye specialist are important to detect early changes. During an eye check-up, the ophthalmologist would examine the anterior segment of the eye and the eye pressure followed by dilation to examine the retina for changes of diabetic retinopathy. If required, a fluroscein angiography may be advised to detect any areas of leakage or non-perfusion of the retina and guide subsequent treatment. Various treatment options include laser or photo-coagulation, injection of drugs and vitreo-retinal surgery as the case maybe.
5) Prevention from diabetic retinopathy
If diabetic retinopathy has been diagnosed and provided it hasn’t reached an advanced stage, good control of blood sugar will prevent it from developing further. So, keep your blood sugar level as near normal as possible, and have regular annual check-ups by a hospital diabetologist and ophthalmologist. It’s also important your blood pressure and cholesterol are well controlled.