Diabetic Retinopathy is an eye problem caused by diabetic complications. The disease occurs when the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the retina are damaged. In the beginning, there might be minor vision issues or no symptoms at all. However, if left untreated, it can even lead to complete vision loss.
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are prone to Diabetic Retinopathy. If you’ve had diabetes for a longer period of time and it stays un-controlled, the risk of DP is higher.
Diabetic Retinopathy can be divided into two types:
- Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR): NPDR is a mild phase of the disorder in which the symptoms either, don’t exist or are too light that they go unnoticed. In NPDR, the blood vessels become weak.
- Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR): In this stage of DR, abnormal blood vessels are formed in the retina which deprives the retina of getting oxygen through the vessels.The person can notice symptoms. It is also referred to as advanced diabetic retinopathy.
Every year, 33 out of 100 patients of diabetes, show some symptoms of either PDR or NPDR, worldwide.
In a nutshell
- Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels are damaged in the retina due to diabetes
- It is among the most common eye problems behind blindness
- Symptoms include struggling with color recognition and blurred vision floaters
- Diabetic patients should get their eyes checked annually to diagnose the disease at an early stage
- Diabetic Retinopathy can be treated through retinal surgery. However, the best way to prevent it from happening is by keeping the blood sugar level in check
There might be minor or completely no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy if the disease is in its early stages. As the intensity of the problem increases, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Vision loss
- Obstruction of vision due to spots or dark strings floating
- Colour blindness
- Empty or dark areas in your vision
- Fluctuating vision
Diabetic Retinopathy gets worse during pregnancy period. So, being a diabetic patient, if you experience any change or blurriness in your vision during the pregnancy period, don’t take it lightly and visit an eye doctor immediately.
We recommend getting your eyes checked every year because DR starts without any imminent signs. And you may not be able to detect the early symptoms. An ophthalmologist or eye specialist can identify the symptoms and diagnose it accordingly.
A doctor uses the following method to diagnose DR:
- Dilated Eye Exam
- Fluorescein Angiography
- Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Treating Diabetic Retinopathy involves numerous factors. Your physician may suggest a suitable method after knowing the severity, types and medical history. Whether its the first stage or DR or advanced diabetic retinopathy, both can be treated.
- Focal laser treatment, or photocoagulation
- Scatter laser treatment, or pan-retinal photocoagulation
How to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?
The best way to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy is by carefully managing your diabetes. If you are a diabetic patient, you should visit your eye doctor at least once every year even if you don’t experience any symptoms.
Who is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy?
- People who have had diabetes for longer periods
- People who manage blood sugar poorly
- People who have high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol
- Pregnant women
- People who smoke
During diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels grow abnormally. The complication can lead to major vision problems including:
Vitreous hemorrhage. If the blood vessels bleed into jelly-like substance in the middle of the eye, you will feel floaters or dark spots obstructing your vision. If too much bleeding takes place it can completely obscure the vision. However, if it does not lead to blindness, your vision will come back once the blood clears from the eye after a few weeks. Vitreous Hemorrhage by itself is not a reason for blindness, but if your retina is damaged that can worsen the case.
Retinal detachment: The abnormal blood vessels prompt the growth of scar tissue. If it exerts a force on the retina and pulls it away from the eye, it will cause spots in your vision or vision loss
Glaucoma: DR can cause the blood vessels to expand and get out of the eye which results in blocking the liquid from escaping the eye. This leads to Glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve.
Blindness: In severe cases,diabetic retinopathy can leave the person completely blind as well.