Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision loss and potentially blindness. It is a serious complication of diabetes and affects approximately one-third of people with diabetes. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
According to Dr Manisha Agarwal, Head of Vitreo-Retina Services at Shroff Charity Eye Hospital & Gen Secretary of Vitreo-Retinal Society of India, frequent eyeglass changes, difficulty reading newspapers or small fonts, cloudy vision, seeing black or red floaters, and seeing a dark curtain are all indications of diabetic retinopathy.
Research suggests that high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels play a significant role in its development. As per a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, can lead to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the retina, which can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, ultimately leading to retinal damage.
Another study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology found that hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a significant risk factor for diabetic retinopathy. The study suggests that high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to complications in blood vessels, which can cause restricted blood flow to the retina.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, there may be no symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, symptoms can include
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Appearance of dark shaped floats across your vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, diabetic retinopathy can also cause visual impairment, which can significantly impact a person's quality of life.
Treatment And Prevention
The treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels can help slow the progression of the disease. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, strict control of blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.
According to Dr Agarwal, in the later stages of diabetic retinopathy, treatments such as laser surgery, eye injections may be necessary. According to a study published in the Journal of Ophthalmology, laser surgery can be used to seal leaking blood vessels in the retina, while vitrectomy can be used to remove scar tissue or blood from the vitreous, the gel-like substance that fills the eye. Intravitreal injections, which involve injecting medication directly into the eye, can also be used to treat diabetic retinopathy.
It is said prevention is better than cure, consider these tips to prevent diabetic retinopathy:
- Preventing diabetic retinopathy involves controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Intensive glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes can significantly reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy
- Regular eye exams are also essential in preventing diabetic retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes that can lead to vision loss and blindness. High blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels are significant risk factors for its development. Preventing and treating diabetic retinopathy involves controlling these risk factors and regular eye exams. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can help preserve vision and improve quality of life for people with diabetes.