Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes can affect sight by causing cataracts, glaucoma, and most importantly, damage to blood vessels inside the eye, a condition known as “diabetic retinopathy”. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. When blood vessels in the retina are damaged they may leak blood and grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar tissue. This can blur or distort the vision. Diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. People with untreated diabetes are said to be 25 times more at risk for blindness than the general population. The longer a person has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy may be developing even when your sight is good. This disease can progress to the most advanced stages without any noticeable change in vision.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy may include:

  • ‘Spiders’, ‘cobwebs’ or tiny specks floating in your vision
  • Dark streaks or a red film which blocks vision.
  • Vision loss or blurred vision.
  • A dark or empty spot in the center of your vision.
  • Poor night vision
  • Difficulty adjusting from bright light to dim light.

Treatment Options

Fortunately, with regular proper eye care and treatment, the incidence of severe vision loss has been greatly reduced. Laser surgery is often helpful in treating diabetic retinopathy. Laser surgery may be performed in an out-patient clinic and can greatly reduce the chances of severe visual impairment. Intraocular Steroid Injection is a newly emerging treatment for diabetic macular edema. This therapy helps reduce the amount of fluid leaking into the retina, resulting in visual improvement. Advanced cases of retinopathy require vitreous surgery to restore vision.

Along with eye care, controlling blood pressure, maintaining normal cholesterol levels and treating anemia can also prevent or significantly reduce progression of diabetic retinopathy.