Fact about Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes and the Eye An increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus poses a major health problem in India. The contributing factors are:

  • An inappropriate  diet,high in fat and carbohydrates
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes may affect both the young (type I) and the old (type II). The latter type is far more common.
  • A silent presence

Regardless of the type of diabetes, many diabetics develop a complication called diabetic retinopathy, a change in the retinal blood vessels that leads to loss of vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy:
  • A silent presence
  • Diabetics are twice as likely as non-diabetics to develop eye problems . The most common eye complication in diabetes is diabetic retinopathy; other complications are cataract and glaucoma.
  • Fifty percent of diabetics develop some degree of diabetic eye disease.
  • The risk of blindness is 25 times higher in diabetics than in non-diabetics.
  • Early detection and timely treatment of diabetic eye disease significantly reduces the risk of vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy is often symptomless in the early stages. Since only an ophthalmologist can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy, all diabetics should have their eyes examined at least once every year.

How does diabetes affect the eye?

Diabetes causes weakening of the blood vessels in the body. The tiny, delicate retinal blood vessels are particularly susceptible. This deterioration of retinal blood vessels, accompanied by structural changes in the retina, is termed diabetic retinopathy and will lead to loss of vision. Diabetic retinopathy is gradual in onset and is related to the duration of diabetes. High blood glucose levels, high blood pressure and genetics influence the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy.

There are two main stages of diabetic retinopathy:

Non-proliferative: When the blood vessels leak, macular edema may occur, thereby reducing vision.Proliferative: When new, weak blood vessels grow or proliferate, bleeding into the vitreous may occur and cause severe visual loss.