Diabetic Retinopathy-Causes, Symptoms, Stages and Treatment
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Diabetic Retinopathy-Causes, Symptoms, Stages and Treatment

Diabetic retinopathy is a major cause of vision loss in diabetic patients. The treatments include blood sugar control, scatter laser surgery and vitrectomy in serious cases.

Diabetic retinopathy refers to the condition where the retina of the eye becomes damaged due to the swelling and leaking of blood vessels. In some cases growth of abnormal blood vessels on the surface of the retina cause damage to it. The retina is responsible for vision and diabetic retinopathy is one of the major causes of vision loss. People who have type-I and type-II diabetes are more at risk. Diabetic retinopathy is more likely to occur in persons who have poor control of their diabetes. Those who have had diabetes for a long duration are prone to this condition.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

1. Floaters

2. Unclear vision

3. Hazy vision in night

4.  Bleeding in severe cases

Four stages of diabetic retinopathy

1. Placid non-proliferative retinopathy- In this stage, swelling occurs in the blood vessels of the retina.

2. Temperate non-proliferative retinopathy- In this stage, the blood vessels that nurture the retina is blocked.

3. Severe non-proliferative retinopathy- In this stage, the number of blood vessels that are blocked increases. The supply of blood to the retina is reduced.

4. Proliferative retinopathy- In this stage, the retina’s signals for blood encourages the growth of new blood vessels. The growth occurs along the surface of the retina and the vitreous gel present in the eye. These blood vessels however are delicate and nonstandard. When the blood vessels leak, vision loss occurs and could lead to blindness.

Proliferative retinopathy can cause vision loss through vitreous hemorrhage, traction retinal detachment and neovascular glaucoma. Vitreous hemorrhage is a condition where the person can perceive only light or dark because blood vessels leak into the gel present in the eye. Normal vision is often restored when the blood clears up.

Traction retinal detachment occurs when the retina wrinkles and is pulled out of position. This causes detachment of retina leading to vision loss.

Neovascular glaucoma is the condition where the blood vessels block the flow of eye fluid. This causes the eye pressure to increase leading to damage of the optic nerve.

Fluid leak into the center of the macula can cause macular edema. The macula swells and as a result the vision gets blurred. Macular edema occurs in the stage of proliferative retinopathy.

Detection tests for diabetic retinopathy and macular edema

1. Visual acuteness test- the eye chart test to measure the quality of vision

2. Dilated eye test- eyes are dilated for close examination of retina

3. Tonometry- eyes are numbed to measure the pressure inside the eyes with the help of an instrument

A fluorescein angiogram is done to detect the presence of leaking blood vessels in severe cases.

Treatment

Progression of diabetic retinopathy can be prevented by controlling the levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Scatter laser treatment is used to treat proliferative retinopathy. Vitrectomy is done in severe cases of bleeding to remove it. Focal laser treatment is done to cure macular edema.

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Comments (10)

What are: 1. Floaters ?

Ranked #28 in Diabetes

Floaters are specks of debris that float inside the eye. The medical term is myodesopsia. normally they are not dangerous, but if they appear in both light and dark backgrounds and affect clear vision, it is a sign of retinal detachment. A sharp pain and flash of light accompanies the floaters in a serious condition. Myopic patients commonly have them.

Well done Deepa, important article about diabetic retinopathy.

Ranked #28 in Diabetes

thank you dear

Ah . . . probably good to include that.

This contains loads of information. Shared.

Very good information. I get floaters occasionally, but they go away. Shared.

Ranked #28 in Diabetes

I have it too. makes me scared sometimes.

Another graet and informative article

Very well presented health education.Thank you.

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