"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Diabetic Retinopathy: Understanding Diabetes-Related Eye Disease and Vision Loss

More than 30 million people within the United States live with diabetes, and about 7.7 million people have diabetic retinopathy, probably the most common reason for vision loss in working adults. Due to the rise within the number of individuals diagnosed with diabetes, the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy has increased significantly over the past 20 years.

How does diabetes affect the retina?

The retina is the light-sensing component positioned behind the attention. It consists of blood vessels, nerve cells (neurons), and specialized cells called photoreceptors which are involved in directly sensing light. The retina's ability to sense light requires energy, which is dependent upon the oxygen supplied by the blood circulating through the blood vessels.

In diabetes, high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels within the retina. These damaged blood vessels leak fluid, bleed, and don't supply adequate oxygen to the retina, leading to retinal ischemia. As a result, retinal cells begin to die and the retina is unable to operate properly. In addition, diabetes directly damages the neurons of the retina. Together, these effects cause diabetic retinopathy.

Vision loss related to diabetic retinopathy can initially affect central vision as a consequence of a condition called diabetic macular edema. This swelling of the macula, the a part of the retina accountable for sharp, central vision, could cause blurred vision and distorted images.

Advanced diabetic retinopathy is characterised by irregular blood vessel formation that could cause bleeding contained in the eye, causing rapid vision loss. This ends in a sudden, curtain-like lack of vision as blood fills the attention. Further deterioration of advanced diabetic retinopathy can result in retinal detachment, which requires immediate surgical intervention and may end up in everlasting, irreversible vision loss if not treated promptly. .

What can I do to stop diabetic retinopathy?

The American Diabetes Association recommends that almost all individuals with diabetes keep their A1c level (a measure of average blood sugar levels over the past two to 3 months) below 7 percent to scale back the danger of complications. As blood glucose directly damages retinal blood vessels, there may be Strong epidemiological evidence that blood sugar control translates into a discount within the incidence and severity of diabetic retinopathy.

To reduce the cardiovascular and microvascular complications of diabetes, including retinopathy, nephropathy (kidney disease), and neuropathy (nerve damage), it is strongly recommended that individuals achieve and maintain normal blood pressure. . Blood pressure may be lowered. Delayed onset of diabetic retinopathy, nevertheless it is unclear whether controlling blood pressure can alter the course of diabetic retinopathy. Similarly, managing cholesterol is advocated for overall diabetes management, nevertheless it is unclear whether doing so reduces the danger of diabetic retinopathy.

How do I do know if I even have diabetic retinopathy?

An ophthalmologist can diagnose and start treatment for diabetic retinopathy before vision is affected. In general, individuals with type 1 diabetes should see an ophthalmologist annually, five years after the onset of their disease. People with type 2 diabetes should see an ophthalmologist for a retinal exam soon after their diagnosis, after which schedule annual exams thereafter. If you might be pregnant or have more advanced diabetic retinopathy, it's possible you'll must see an ophthalmologist more often.

What can I do to stop or slow vision loss if I even have diabetic retinopathy?

Currently, there are drugs that may bind VEGF and thereby improve the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. These “anti-VEGF” agents are injected directly into the attention and might improve diabetic macular edema, and even improve the severity of diabetic retinopathy. In some people, steroids injected directly into the attention also can improve diabetic macular edema. In some advanced cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (probably the most advanced type of diabetic retinopathy), patients may have medications to stop or reduce bleeding and leakage, shrink damaged blood vessels, or remove blood and scar tissue. May require retinal laser therapy or retinal surgery.