Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of diabetic retinopathy.

One of the leading outcomes of high blood sugar levels in diabetic patients is the risk to eyesight. Do you suffer from a black spot in your line of vision, or do you have a vision anomaly? In such cases, you may be suffering from diabetic retinopathy. Hence it is imperative that you seek proper treatment as soon as possible to avoid debilitating risks like complete vision loss.

Patients with diabetes experience high blood sugar levels. This condition can impact many organs of the body, including the eyes. Diabetes patients may suffer from a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It signifies the degeneration of the tissue in the eye that lets in the light, thus impacting proper eyesight. If left untreated, it may result in catastrophic results like total blindness.

An unregulated and high level of sugar in the blood is the key reason for the onset of diabetic retinopathy. In this condition, the eyes’ vascular system sees an unusually large deposit of sugar. This impeded its main function of transmitting blood to the retina. Since this is the tissue that regulates light entering the eye, the deposit of sugar and lack of blood supply may damage the structural integrity of the retina. The retinal tissue may swell and leak blood vessels, thus causing blurry vision. If left untreated, it may lead to complete loss of vision.

Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy:

Diabetic retinopathy afflicts patients who cannot manage their blood sugar levels (i.e., diabetes patients). It impacts both Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes patients. Even pregnant ladies who have gestational diabetes may suffer from this eye problem.

The onset of diabetic retinopathy is caused due to one of the below reasons:

  • Excessive blood sugar levels over a long period of time
  • Retinal leaks and swelling due to high blood sugar
  • Excessive levels of cholesterol
  • High BP

All these conditions collectively cause the disease.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy:

Damage from diabetic retinopathy takes a long time to become visible. Hence there may be absolutely no symptoms at all during the initial stages. But if you have been diagnosed with high blood sugar, then it is vital to get your eyes checked as well for damage due to excessive sugar buildup in the blood vessels of the eyes.

The condition can manifest itself with the below signs at a later stage –

  • Black spots in the line of sight
  • Blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Dark and light shades when seeing objects

Diagnosis and Treatment of diabetic retinopathy:

In case you see any of the above mentioned problems with your eyes when you suffer from high blood sugar, it is advised to consult with an ophthalmologist right away. The earlier you seek treatment, the better will be your chances of saving your eyes from blood loss.

The eye specialist will do a dilated pupil exam for detailed scrutiny of the condition of the eye. The patient will be administered an eye drop meant to widen the pupil of the eyes. This is a zero-pain diagnostic procedure.

An alternative to the dilated pupil exam is Optical coherence tomography (OCT). Here, the eye specialist will snap images of the retina to examine and identify the presence of swelling in the tissue.

Another diagnostic procedure commonly employed by eye specialists is Fluorescein Angiography. This ensures that the doctor gets a highly magnified view of the retinal tissue. This allows him to check for leaks in the blood vessels that may damage the eye. In this procedure, the eye specialist will administer a yellow dye to the patient’s arm. This travels to the eye tissues and highlights any problems in blood flow in the eye’s veins.

Now, let’s examine the treatment options available for patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy. One of the more common forms of treatment is the injection of an anti-VEGF drug that slows down diabetic retinopathy.

An eye specialist may also recommend laser treatments to bring down the swelling on the eye’s retina. In case there is severe retinal bleeding, then this form of treatment can be ineffective. In such a situation, the patient is recommended to undergo eye surgery.

How to Avoid Diabetic Retinopathy:

An extremely high level of blood sugar is the key reason for the onset of this condition. So, the patient needs to manage glucose levels in the bloodstream. They need to take a healthy diet that prevents spikes in blood sugar levels.

Ophthalmologists also recommend a patient constantly track their blood glucose levels.

Cut down on smoking and tobacco consumption to eliminate risks of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetics need to regularly check for any change to vision or blurriness in the vision.