Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of uncontrolled diabetes and consistently high blood sugar over several years, resulting in retinal disease, which can interfere with its ability to transmit images to the brain through the optic nerve.
Blood vessels in the retina play an important role in supplying it with oxygen and nutrients, which keep it healthy and working effectively.
Diabetic Retinopathy can result in damage to the blood vessels; these may then bleed, leak or become blocked leading to cell damage in the retina itself.
There are varying forms and levels of severity of diabetic retinopathy – for example, when the retina becomes damaged, new blood vessels may grow on it and can burst, leading to bleeding and blurred vision. If the macula (the central area of the retina) is affected – this is called Diabetic Maculopathy – the disease has reached a much more advanced and serious stage.
High blood pressure combined with diabetes leads to an even more dangerous condition.
Many diabetics, particularly those with poor control over diabetes that results in elevated blood sugar levels over long periods of time, have damaged blood vessels in the retina, the tissue lining the back of the eye that detects light and allows us to see. This results in a condition called diabetic retinopathy, which affects 8 out of 10 patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or longer.
Different treatment options are available, and sometimes a combination of the possible treatments is used. These include intravitreal injection of medications (anti VEGF and or steroids), conventional peripheral laser, subthreshold micropulse laser. In more advanced cases, with prolipherative retinopathy or with intravitreal haemorrhages, surgery may be the only possible option.
Early diagnosis of the complications of diabetes generally leads to better management and better outcomes, and that is why it is vitally important to get regular eye screenings.