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Diabetic Retinopathy is a complication of the eye that occurs because of diabetes. It is a condition that damages the light-sensitive tissue of the retina. It can start with a medium to low level of problems in vision and can advance to complete blindness. It is mostly witnessed in patients who are suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes. An uncontrolled blood sugar and diabetes levels in a patient pose a greater threat of diabetic retinopathy.
What are the symptoms?
Diabetic retinopathy could be devoid of any symptoms in its early stages. However, as the condition progresses, a person might experience the following symptoms:
- Empty or dark areas in the vision
- Blurred vision
- Spots floating in the vision
- Fluctuating vision
- Complete loss of color vision
- Complete vision loss
Possible causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
Too much sugar in the blood vessels can block the blood supply in the retina. In the meanwhile, new blood vessels can form in the eye that does not fully matures and leak easily. Typically, there are two types of diabetic retinopathy:
- Early diabetic retinopathy: This is the type of diabetic retinopathy where the new blood vessels haven’t started growing in the eye yet. This condition is also known as NPDR. In this phase, the walls of the retina blood vessels weaken and numerous tiny bulges extend from the vessel walls. This condition could even leak blood into the retina. The nerve fibers and the macula tend to swell and requires immediate treatment.
- Advanced diabetic retinopathy: This is the most severe and advanced type of diabetic retinopathy and is known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is a condition where the damaged blood cells shut down resulting in the growth of new and abnormal blood vessels. It leaks a jelly like substance and fills the vitreous. Eventually, the scar tissue can detach the eye from the retina. It can also result in a condition known as glaucoma.
What are the risk factors involved?
Patients suffering from diabetes can have diabetic retinopathy. The risk factors further increase in the following condition persists:
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- Diabetes for a long duration.
- High cholesterol
- High or low blood sugar level
Tests and diagnosis:
An ophthalmologist tests the vision, look for cataracts and measure the eye pressure. In addition to this, he looks out for symptoms of abnormal blood vessels, retinal detachment, the growth of scar tissue swelling of the retina etc. A doctor might also prescribe tests such as optical coherence tomography and fluorescein angiography.
For early diabetic retinopathy, a doctor might not take any action but closely monitor the condition. If it aggravates, a doctor starts treatment when he deems fit. For advanced diabetic retinopathy, the doctor might go for focal laser treatment, scatter laser treatment and vitrectomy. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Ophthalmologist.