What is Diabetic Retinopathy and How to Prevent It!

June 15, 2008

Every family today is becoming more resistant to sweet meats and fast food, not because they are calorie conscious but because sugar is now detrimental for one or more of there family members on account of diabetes mellitus. Yes, today almost every family has a diabetic!

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder in which the sugar consumed in form of secondary sugars like sucrose and lactose as well as carbohydrates cannot be used efficiently by the body. The glucose formed after digestion of other sugars is not taken up by the different cells of the body as the transporter of the glucose inwards is malfunctional. This transporter is nothing but insulin. The increase in sugar concentration of the blood in any diabetic gives rise to a number of complications, retinopathy is one of them.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy ?

Retinopathy is an impairment of the retina a layer at the back of the eye which receives light and sends signals to the nerve responsible for us to enjoy vision. Hence if the retina is damaged we are unable to see clearly.

How does the retina get damaged in diabetes? The high glucose concentration of blood makes it thicker and the thin blood vessels or capillaries are not strong or elastic enough to carry the higher concentration of sugar in the blood they are carrying. So, they tend to swell, lose shape and may finally burst to give spots of blood near the retina.

Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy Retinopathy is a very common complication in all type 2 diabetics. Infact sixty percent of diabetics develop retinopathy in the first ten years of their disorder, and in the first twenty years, all patients encompass retinopathy. However, this is not a cause to be fearful; infact this should be taken as an alarm to take charge of the complication.

Stages in Diabetic Retinopathy

1. Mild: Here the capillaries in the retina get swollen due to the thick blood carrying high concentrations of glucose. 2. Moderate: Soon as the disease progresses some blood vessels are blocked by the blood. 3. Severe: Most blood vessels of retina are blocked and the retina signals the body for generating more blood vessels. 4. Proliferative: More vessels are formed along the retinal wall but they are also fragile. Hence they rupture easily and release the blood into the cavity. As a result, spotting is seen in the eye after haemorrhage or breakage of blood vessels.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy

Blurred vision and floaters are first seen symptoms which may worsen as the disease progresses into complete loss of vision and heavy bleeding from the eye.

Prevention of Diabetic Retinopathy

Prevention is much better than cure! The complication of retinopathy also can be avoided if the sugar level of the blood is under control. Regular blood tests, medication, exercise and diet regimen maintenance are steps to be taken to avoid deviations in blood sugar level.

Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy

Pan retinal photocoagulation is a  laser technique which destroys oxygen deprived retinal tissue. This helps patients showing symptoms of abnormal growth of blood vessels near retina. Vitrectomy is another surgery adopted for patients showing signs of haemorrhage.

Additional Reading: 

How to Cope with Diabetic Retinopathy

Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease

Salacia for Diabetes Control