People with diabetes can have an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy. This is when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina, which cause the blood vessels to leak. Or they can close, stopping blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina, All of these changes can affect your vision.
There are two main stages of diabetic eye disease.
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR):
This occurs early in diabetics and can cause macular edema which leads to loss of vision.
The blood vessels in the retina can also close off, and when that happens, blood cannot reach the macula, which can affect your vision
If you have NPDR, your vision will be blurry.
PDR (proliferative diabetic retinopathy):
PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease, which occurs when the retina creates new vessels, and is called neovascularization. These vessels can bleed, and If they only bleed a little, you might see a few dark floaters. If they bleed a lot, it might block all vision. These new blood vessels can form scar tissue. Which can cause problems with the macula or lead to a detached retina.
PDR is very serious, and can lead to total loss of vision if not treated early.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms:
You can have diabetic retinopathy in one or both eyes and not know it. As it gets worse, you will notice symptoms such as:
- seeing an increasing number of floaters,
- blurry vision,
- seeing dark areas in your field of vision,
- having poor night vision, or noticing faded colors
Diagnosis of Diabetic retinopathy
During your exam, drops will be put in your eye to dilate (widen) your pupil. This allows your ophthalmologist to look through a special lens to see the inside of your eye.
Your doctor may request you to do a fluorescein angiography to see what is happening with your retina.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is another way to look at the retina. The OCT provides detailed imaging of your retina, which helps your doctor find and measure swelling of your macula.
Treatment of diabetes
Treatment options may include:
Controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure is one of the important steps to stop vision loss. Carefully follow your doctors recommendations and take your diabetic medications. Sometimes, good sugar control can improve your vision.Controlling your blood pressure also keeps your eye’s blood vessels healthy.
One type of medication is called anti-VEGF medication. There are many types of medications which include Avastin, Eylea, Lucentis and steroids. Anti-VEGF medication helps to reduce swelling of the macula, slowing vision loss and perhaps improving vision. This medication is given by injections in the eye. During your eye exam your doctor will recommend how many medication injections you will need over time.