This is an eye condition caused by a diabetes complication and damage to the diabetes patient’s blood vessels linked to the retina, which is ideally the light-sensitive tissue squarely located at the back end of the eye. Initially, the disease may show mild vision problems only but develops to cause serious complications and even blindness. This condition may also develop in individuals with either type of diabetes: type 1/ type 2. Eye doctor Aurora says the risk increases people continue to have the condition for longer with much less control over their blood sugar. Therefore, being unable to control your blood sugar and having the condition for longer could result in serious eye complications like Diabetic Retinopathy.
Common Symptoms of Diabetes Retinopathy
In most cases, people have no symptoms during the initial stages of the disease. However, as diabetic retinopathy progresses, patients begin to show one or more symptoms that may include the following:
- The presence of spots or dark threads freely floating in the field of vision and commonly referred to as floaters
- Experiencing blurred or fluctuating vision
- Experiencing empty or dark areas in the field of vision
- Having impaired vision or vision loss affecting both eyes
Causes of Diabetes Retinopathy
The main cause of this condition is the presence of excess sugar in the blood. It may result in the blockage of the network of tiny blood vessels responsible for supplying the retina with food and nourishment. Thereby cutting off the important blood supply and leading to eye complications. Consequently, the eye initiates the growth of new blood vessels in its attempt to replace damaged ones. But, the new ones may experience improper growth, leading to easy leakage.
Types of Diabetes Retinopathy
Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR), which is a form of the condition in its early stages, is characterized by the lack of growth (proliferation) of new blood cells and leads to the weakening of the blood vessel walls. Tiny bulges known as microaneurysms tend to protrude from the walls, often leaking blood and fluid inside the retina. With continued blockage of the blood vessels, NPDR may develop from mild to severe, resulting in the swelling of nerve fibers at the back of the eye and macular edema, which requires medication.
Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, as it is also known, is a more advanced form of the condition and may cause the damaged vessels to close off, thereby preventing the growth of new ones. It may also result in the leakage of blood into the vitreous.
The doctor recommends treatment depending on the stage of the condition. NPDR may not require immediate attention but blood sugar control can be done to slow the progression of the condition. On the other hand, the advanced stage of the condition may require surgery. Including laser treatment, vitrectomy, and the direct injection of medicine into the patient’s eye.
Diabetic retinopathy commonly affects patients with diabetes is they fail to effectively manage blood sugar levels in their blood. While the condition may not require treatment in its early stages, advanced stages may require surgery.