Diabetic Retinopathy

A diabetic eye disease, Diabetic Retinopathy, occurs when the glucose levels in the blood fluctuate, affecting the retinal blood vessels. Prolonged, high blood glucose levels lead to the swelling of blood vessels, which can then leak fluid into the retina of the eye. Because of this, the retina might become starved of oxygen, and, in advanced stages, abnormal vessels may grow in the eye, which can lead to permanent vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy has been categorized into 2 different types: Non-proliferative and Proliferative

1. Non-proliferative: This is the initial stage of retinal damage, resulting from diabetes affecting the small blood vessels in the retina.

2. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR): An advanced form of diabetic retinopathy, PDR occurs with the growth of new, fragile blood vessels in the retina which expand into the vitreous and leak, potentially causing clouded vision.

Individuals suffering from prolonged diabetes are at a greater risk of developing retinopathy. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this eye disease yet. The best one can do to lower the risk of diabetes retinopathy is to keep one’s blood glucose within the normal range to slow down the progress of the disease.

A person suffering from diabetes should get regular check-ups for their eyes, along with other organs, for early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related ailments. Before the retina gets severely damaged, laser treatment (photocoagulation) can be done to prevent permanent vision loss.

In case of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, an anti-inflammatory medicine, or an anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medicine, is found effective to help shrink the new blood vessels. In other cases, vitreous gel can be removed to eliminate the fluid and improve vision, during a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.