Diabetic retinopathy is the disease of the eyes caused due to diabetes. This disease affects the retina in the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in India, but it can be avoided by taking certain precautions.
Diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels and capillaries in the eye. This leads to leakage of blood from the blood vessels into the eye. Leaking blood vessels cause macular edema (a buildup of fluids in the macula of the eye leading to swelling).
With the damage to the blood vessels, there is inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood to the thin light-sensitive tissues of the retina. This reduces the vision of a person with diabetic retinopathy. As the disease progresses, it leads to blindness.
Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:
Mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy:
In this stage, there is damage to the blood vessels with swelling. This blocks the blood supply to all the parts of the retina.
Moderate non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy:
In this stage, some blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the retina are totally blocked.
Severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy:
By the time a patient reaches this stage, most of the blood vessels supplying blood to the retina are blocked.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy:
This is an advanced stage of the disease. New and tiny blood vessels start growing in the retina. These blood vessels are tiny and so they hemorrhage causing fluid buildup and retinal detachment.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy:
- Blurred central vision.
- Double vision and flashing lights in front of the eye.
- Floating spots or blind spots around the eye.
- Fluctuating vision with fluctuating sugar levels.
- Decreased vision and depth perception.
How to prevent Diabetic Retinopathy:
1. It is very important for every person diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) to get periodical diabetic eye examinations. Depending upon the doctor’s discretion, you might need:
- Dilated eye exam
- Optical coherence tomography
2. More than anything else, a person with diabetes needs to have a tight control over diabetes. This can be achieved by taking medications without missing a single dose. Also, along with medication, one has to have diet and exercise as recommended by a qualified dietician and diabetes educator.
3. Start self-monitoring of blood glucose levels. Record the values and show it to your doctor.
4. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
5. If you are overweight, reduce weight to healthy levels.
6. Cut down on consumption of alcohol significantly.
7. Quit smoking.