Diabetic Retinopathy

Ocular diabetes

What is diabetic retinopathy?

It is the most frequent vascular disease affecting the retina.

It is caused by a weakening of the blood vessels as a consequence of metabolic disorders which result from diabetes. The small blood vessels that feed the retina are very susceptible to these changes. The blood vessels’ deterioration and structural changes which this causes in the retina, lead to vision loss.

Which symptoms are present?

In early stages of diabetic retinopathy no symptoms are present, thus patients do not become aware of it until severe damaged is produced. Because of this, diabetic patients should undergo ophthalmological examinations periodically.

Symptoms in advanced diabetic retinopathy are:

  • Gradual loss of vision
  • Floaters or myodesopsia
  • Dark shadows or blind spots
  • Poor night vision

Prevention

Diabetic patients must keep a close control of blood sugar levels and blood pressure. High levels of these trigger blood vessel damage and in turn diabetic retinopathy.

In addition, sedentary life, obesity and smoking favour the onset of the disease.

Periodic retinal examinations are fundamental to early diagnose and treat this disease in order to avoid severe retinal damage and vision loss.


Diagnosis

Fluorescein angiography is used to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. A fluorescent dye is injected into the bloodstream and pictures of the retina are taken to allow the ophthalmologist to evaluate the retina, classify the severity of the disease and choose the best possible treatment.


Treatment

Diabetic retinopathy can affect the macula (central area of the retina in charge of detail perception) or the peripheral retina.

Depending on the area which is affected and the severity of the disease, the following treatments can be applied:

  • Laser photocoagulation: Argon laser is applied to the damaged areas of the retina to clot blood vessels in these areas, repair retinal tears and eliminate abnormal tissues.
  • Intravitreal injection
  • Vitrectomy


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