Diabetic Retinopathy & Treatment-Everything You Need To Know

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Diabetic Retinopathy & Treatment-Everything You Need To Know

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where high blood sugar levels affect the blood vessels that lead to your eyes. Diabetes, if left uncontrolled, causes damage to blood vessels all through the body. Your eyes are not exceptions.

Everything To Know About Diabetic Retinopathy

The retina is a membrane that surrounds the back of your eye. Upon detection of light, it informs the brain through signals sent to it through your optic nerve.

When you become diabetic, the high blood sugar levels in the body block the flow of blood to the small blood vessels in your retina. As a result, they start leaking and bleeding.

Diabetic Retinopathy & Treatment-Everything You Need To Know

Your eye then starts creating new blood vessels. These weak blood vessels are prone to leakage and bleeding. Experts call this the advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy or proliferative diabetic retinopathy. And the early stage is called non-proliferative.

When you remain diabetic for long, fluids start accumulating in your eye. This causes a change of shape in the eye and its lens. As a result, your vision begins to deteriorate.

Once your blood sugar levels come under control, the lens of your eye regains its earlier shape. And your vision improves. 

Symptoms

If you suffer from diabetic retinopathy, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Unexpected loss of vision
  • Blurred vision
  • An impression that shapes are floating before your eyes
  • Redness
  • Pain

Diagnosis

Your eye specialist puts a few drops in your eye. This dilates your eyeball. It allows the ophthalmologist to see your eye inside out. You may even need to undergo fluorescein angiography to detect any abnormality in your retina. Here, the specialist injects fluorescein, a yellow dye into your vein. It is generally given in the arm. The dye travels and reaches the blood vessels of your retina. A special camera takes its photo. And your doctor can detect leakage, bleeding, or the formation of new blood vessels therein.

Optical coherence tomography is another tool the specialist uses to diagnose diabetic neuropathy. Here, a machine offers a detailed view of your retina. Your ophthalmologist measures the thickness of your retina and detects abnormalities.

Treatment

Treatment for diabetic neuropathy should combine both an ophthalmologist and a medical doctor. The medical doctor treats other complications and helps you regulate your blood sugar.  Your ophthalmologist, in the meantime, treats your eye. The professional may use LASER or a surgery named vitrectomy. Both are meant to minimize the damage to your retina and maintain your vision.

Your specialist may suggest the same even if you don’t have an eye problem.

The LASER treatment

Here, your ophthalmologist creates small burns in your eye. They seal off leakages and reduce inflammation. 

The number of burns and the sessions of treatment required to depend on your eye’s response to the treatment. It may take a few months for the improvement to come to light.

Vitrectomy

This is recommended for those having a retinal detachment. It is also used to clear certain hemorrhages. Your doctor may do this surgery if the LASER treatment fails to produce the desired result.

During the procedure, your specialist drains out the fluid in your eye. It also clears the remainders of leaking blood vessels. The professional also removes scarred tissues. The expert then replaces the vitreous fluid with another of the kind.

Vitrectomy is almost free from side effects. The rare ones may include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Glaucoma
  • A decrease in color vision
  • Difficulty to see in the dark
  • Bleeding

Vitrectomy’s benefits outweigh the risks.

What To Expect From Treatments?

Both the treatments are proven to be effective. But you have to keep your expectation practical. The success depends on the stage of your ailment.

What To Expect From Treatments?

Causes And Prevention

Diabetic retinopathy is the result of prolonged and unregulated high blood sugar levels. Regulating your blood sugar is the only way to stay safe from the condition. Following factors increase the likelihood of this eye condition:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic diabetes
  • Protein-contained urine
  • High levels of triglycerides in blood
  • Kidney problems

If you have diabetes, you are prone to diabetic retinopathy. See to it that your blood sugar levels always remain in control.

Do the following and you will stay safe from diabetic retinopathy:

  • Follow a balanced diet
  • Regulate sugar levels and blood pressure 
  • Stay active
  • Quit smoking
  • Sleep well

Live healthily; you will prevent diabetic retinopathy for life

Dr. John Augustine received his BA from Harvard College magna cum laude in 1987 and his Ph.D. and MD degrees from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1992 and 1993. He was then an intern and resident in Internal Medicine at the Yale-New Haven Hospital from 1993-1995. From 1995-1998, John was a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute. He joined the faculty of the Duke University Medical Center in 2008 as Chief of Rheumatology at the Durham VA Hospital, a position he held until the end of 2017. He served as Chief of Rheumatology and Immunology at Duke from 2003-2008. He has conducted basic and translational research in the field of autoimmunity. He was focusing on the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and the immunological properties of nuclear macromolecules, including DNA. More recently, he has investigated the immune activities of HMGB1, a nuclear protein with alarmin activity, as well as microparticles. These studies have provided new insights into the translocation of atomic molecules during cell activation and cell death and the mechanisms by which cell death can influence innate immunity.

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