Diabetes is a life-threatening and dangerous disease causing an array of systemic complications with a significant impact on the patients. The numbers of diabetic patients are increasing throughout the world. Some of the complications are treatable with an early diagnosis!
The body fails to store and utilize the sugar in the diabetic condition which leaves excessive sugar in the bloodstream and damages the blood vessels. The patients develop corneal abnormalities, iris neo-vascularization, glaucoma, neuropathies and cataracts which affects the vision power.
One of the major complications associated with the condition is diabetic retinopathy. Retinopathy is a complication that affects the eyes, causes blood vessels damage and leakage causing swelling in the retina which impacts the ability to focus. The progressive damage to the light-sensitive tissue when left untreated causes blindness in persons from 25-74 years old.
Learn more about the eye complication
This eye complication can develop in a diabetic patient with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes for the less controlled blood sugar. Spotting the initial signs of diabetic retinopathy is difficult. The diabetic patients need to consult a doctor and diagnose the condition for early detection.
There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy which get classified as mild, moderate, severe nonproliferative and proliferative. The sign of mild stage is swelling in the blood vessels, which develops in the second stage blocking some of the blood vessels.
In the third stage, the blockage increases and restricts adequate blood flow to the retina for which it is unable to develop new blood vessels replacing the damaged vessels. The fourth stage is the advanced stage of the disease in which new blood vessels grow but are abnormal which leads to blood leakage and vision loss.
Spot the signs of retinopathy in its early stages
- Blurred or cloudy vision- In the initial phase of retinopathy, the patients will experience blurred or cloudy vision which restricts to focus on objects and also the patient faces difficulty in reading.
- Seeing floaters or dark spots in vision- The patient will see floaters or dark spots in vision in the early stages of the complication. The floaters or spots will appear when you see towards a clean and lighted area.
- Fluctuating and Double vision- You will face difficulty in viewing the objects for the fluctuating and double vision. Impaired focus on the objects may lead to major accidents as you will be unable to judge the right vision.
- Impaired color vision- The patient will be unable to distinguish between the colors as the condition will develop an impaired color vision. Color blindness is a major issue which will ruin your day-to-day life.
- Poor night vision- The early signs of diabetic retinopathy include poor night vision for which the patient will be unable to view the objects and surrounding in low light. The condition may lead to night blindness.
Diagnose the condition to detect the stage
Consult a doctor to diagnose the condition and detect the stage. The doctor will perform comprehensive dilated eye exam placing drops in the eyes. The drops will widen the pupils, and the doctor will get a better view of the eyes.
The doctor will consider the signs and look for abnormal blood vessels, blood deposits and swelling in the retina, growth of scar tissues, bleeding in the vitreous of the eyes, the detachment of the retina, abnormality in the optic nerve and evidence of cataract. The eye tests include Fluorescein angiography and Optical Coherence Tomography.
Detecting the stage and type of Diabetic Retinopathy is essential as the severity will decide the treatment. Early diagnosis will reduce the risks of worsening eye damages. The doctor will suggest the effective treatment after diagnosing the condition.
The effective treatment for early diabetic retinopathy
The patients suffering from mild or moderate nonproliferative stages don’t require immediate treatment but, the doctor will suggest the treatment after monitoring the condition and determining the requirement.
You can consult your endocrinologist- diabetes doctor to improve diabetes management. Proper diabetes management will help to control the blood sugar level and slow down the progression of the condition. Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar will prevent vision loss.
Continue the diabetes medicines and diet as prescribed by the doctor and nutritionist. Good sugar control may restore your vision power, and controlled blood pressure will keep the blood vessels healthy.
Treatment for advanced diabetic retinopathy
The doctors suggest for surgical treatment if the patient proceeds towards proliferative stage or macular edema. The doctor will diagnose the condition and detect specific problems with the retina and suggest advanced treatment options.
Focal Laser Treatment or Photocoagulation is a laser treatment which prevents or slows down the leakage of the blood and fluid within the eyes. Laser burns treat the leakages from the abnormal blood vessels. This treatment may not restore blurred vision but will reduce the possibilities of worsening the condition.
Panretinal Photocoagulation is scattered laser treatment which shrinks the abnormal blood vessels in the procedure and treats the retina away from the macula. The patient may lose peripheral vision in the treatment procedure.
Vitrectomy is a procedure to remove blood from the vitreous and the scar tissue tugging on the retina. The surgeon uses local anesthesia and tiny incision for the surgery.
Injections to reduce swelling of macular-
Anti-VEGF medication will help to reduce the swelling of the macular, slow the vision loss and improve vision power. Steroid medicine is another effective option for reducing macular swelling. Both of the medicines are injections injected into the eyes, and the doctor decides the number of injections required to treat the condition.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition and affects the patient forever. Surgery will prevent or slow down the progression of retinopathy but will not cure completely. There are still chances of retinal damage and vision loss in the future! Following the measures to control diabetes will prevent the condition from worsening, and you can stabilize the effects.