Nowadays in the world there are over 150 million people suffering of diabetes and several other millions don’t even know they have it. This is due to the fact that diabetes acts in silence in the beginning and in time, if not treated properly and controlled it can cause serious complications. One of these complications would be diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye disease that can lead in time to blindness. As some of us know, in order to us to see, we must have an intact retina. Retina plays a major part in the visual system as it collects images from the surroundings and transmits them to the brain where they are being processed.
A patient with diabetes that does not follow treatment as prescribed can end up developing diabetic retinopathy. Here are a few facts on how the retina can get affected by diabetes: at first the blood vessels that irrigate the retina get thicker and do not carry the needed amount of blood to the retina as they used to do. In time, there can even form aneurisms on the vessels, they can break, and lead to a blood accumulation inside the vitreous gel. This causes a severe vision loss. Sometimes, in a different stage of the diabetic retinopathy, edemas of the retina and even retinal detachments can occur.
As you can see, diabetic retinopathy is nothing to joke about. People suffering of diabetes type 1 and type 2 are exposed to this severe complication and they should have an eye exam performed once a year by an eye specialist. The thing about diabetic retinopathy is that sometimes it can develop without giving any symptoms and this is why periodically check ups must be done.
According to the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) controlling the level of sugar in the blood can slow the onset and the development of diabetic retinopathy. Besides this diabetic complication, other complications as well could have been avoided too by keeping the glycemic index under control.
In case diabetic retinopathy has already occurred, treatment is possible. During the first stages of this affection, major interventions are not needed, only a severe control of the glycemic index, the blood pressure and the level of cholesterol in blood are indicated. In more advanced cases laser surgery is a must. In case there is blood inside the vitreous gel the doctor might recommend a vitrectomy to get it out. The vitrectomy will be done under local anesthesia. In case you need a vitrectomy for both of the eyes, you should know that they are done several weeks apart.
More researches are being done so that new drugs that keep diabetes under control and prevent any modifications in the retina’s blood vessels can be used as soon as possible.