People with diabetes can have an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80 percent of those who have had diabetes for 20 years or more. At least 90% of new cases could be reduced with proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes.
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy often don’t appear until major damage occurs inside of the eye. They include
Mild non proliferative diabetic retinopathy – swelling in small areas of the blood vessels in the retina.
Moderate non proliferative diabetic retinopathy – some of the blood vessels in the retina will become blocked leading to hemorrhages
Severe non proliferative diabetic retinopathy – more blocked blood vessels, which lead to areas of the retina no longer receiving adequate blood flow
Visual acuity testing: This measures a person’s vision.
Tonometry: This test measures pressure inside the eye.
Pupil dilation: Drops placed on the eye’s surface widen the pupil, allowing a physician to examine the retina and optic nerve.
Comprehensive dilated eye exam: It allows the doctor to check the retina for:
Optical coherence tomography (OCT): It uses light waves to produce images of the retina to assess the amount of fluid.
Fundus fluorescein angiography(FFA): During this test, your doctor will inject a dye into your arm, allowing them to track how the blood flows in your eye. They’ll take pictures of the dye circulating inside of your eye to determine which vessels are blocked, leaking, or broken.
The goal of any treatment is to slow or stop the progression of the disease. In the early stages of non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, regular monitoring may be the only treatment. Diet and exercise and controlling blood sugar levels can help control the progression of the disease.
Laser : If the disease advances, the blood vessels can leak blood and fluid into the retina, leading to macular edema. Laser treatment can stop this leakage. Focal laser photocoagulation involves using a laser to target a specific leaky vessel in the macula to keep macular edema from worsening.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to do the following:
If you or someone close to you has developed diabetic retinopathy, do not put off an eye test. Walk into Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital for an appointment with top specialists and surgeons in the field of eye care.
Written by: Dr. Preetha Rajasekaran – Consultant Ophthalmologist, Porur