Disease

If the blood vessels of the retina (light-sensitive tissue that is positioned at the back of the eye) are damaged, it results in an eye disease called Diabetic Retinopathy.

As the name suggests, diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes-related complication that upsets the eyes. It can affect individuals with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, if you have had diabetes for a long period of time and haven't kept your blood sugar under control, you're susceptible to developing this eye disease.

 There are two types of diabetic retinopathy that can affect an individual and these include -

1. Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) is the most common type of diabetic retinopathy. In NPDR new blood vessels do not proliferate or grow. The walls of the blood vessels in the retina weaken and tiny bulges jut out of the walls of the smaller vessels. This results in a leakage of fluid and blood into the retina. NPDR can shift from being mild to severe as more blood vessels get blocked.

2. Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR) is comparatively more serious. It's possible for diabetic retinopathy to graduate to PDR. When the eyes are affected with PDR, the damaged blood vessels shut down, causing new and abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. These new blood vessels can potentially leak into the vitreous (a gel-like substance that allows the eye stay in its round shape).

Causes

When there is excess sugar in the blood, it creates an obstruction in the tiny blood vessels which are responsible for nourishing the retina. Gradually this blockage will cut off blood supply.

Due to this, the eye tries to produce new blood vessels which do not develop properly and leak out easily.

Diagnosis

There are various methods that are used for the assessment of diabetic retinopathy.

1. Drops. The ophthalmologist will put drops into your eye. The drops aid in widening the pupil, allowing the ophthalmologist to get a peek of the inside of your eye by using a special lens.

2. Fluorescein Angiography. This method will enable the ophthalmologist to observe what is happening with the retina.

3. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). This is another method that is used to look closely at the retina. During this diagnostic procedure, a machine scans the retina and gives detailed images of its thickness.

Treatment

It is vital to keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control. Doing so will keep your blood vessels healthy, bring back your vision and put an end to vision loss.

Anti-VEGF is a medicine that is often prescribed for treating diabetic retinopathy. It decreases a swollen macula and slows down vision loss, thus improving vision. This medication is given through injection shots.

Steroid medication is another treatment option, which is also given in the form of injections.


Surgery

When it comes to surgery for diabetic retinopathy, the patient may require more than one treatment.

1. Laser Surgery will help achieving two things; one is it would seal the leaking blood vessels which will reduce swelling of the retina and two, it will shrink the blood vessels and eventually stop them from growing back.

2. Vitrectomy Surgery is recommended only when the PDR has progressed immensely. A vitrectomy surgery will aid in removing the vitreous gel and stops blood from leaking vessels at the back of the eye, which allows light rays to focus properly on the retina again.

Takeaway

You may not experience symptoms or may have only mild problems related to your vision when you first get affected with diabetic retinopathy. But remember this can progress gradually and may lead to blindness. Hence, get it diagnosed and treated at the earliest.