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Diabetic Eye Condition

Diabetic Eye Condition

In advanced or long standing diabetic persons, the blood vessels in the retina are damaged and leak fluid or blood. The longer a person has diabetes, the more is the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms

Early diabetic retinopathy usually has no symptoms. Gradual blurring of vision may occur if fluid leaks in the central part of the retina (the macula). In late diabetic retinopathy (proliferative stage), new abnormal blood vessels begin growing on the surface of the retina or the optic nerve. These vessels have weak walls and leak blood out into the retina and vitreous (the jelly that fills most of the eye). Presence of blood in the path of light entering the eye blocks vision, resulting in impaired vision or vision loss.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy diagnosed?

A complete eye examination is required for the detection of diabetic retinopathy. Retina examination is done after dilatation of pupils to diagnose the condition. If diabetic retinopathy is found, a special test called fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA) may be performed where a dye is injected in the vein and photographs of the retina are taken to pin point or locate the areas of leakages.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy treated?

Anti VEGF injections

These injections which are given in the eye prevent VEGF which is a substance which causes the new vessels to develop. The new vessels gradually regress and thus the leakage reduces. The central retina or macula returns toward normal thickness as the leakage gradually reduces. Usually these injections are given once a month and are given for three consecutive months. These monthly injections may continue after three months also depending on your retinal condition.

Laser treatment

Laser photocoagulation involves the focusing of a powerful beam of laser light on the damaged retina to seal leaking retinal blood vessels and stop abnormal blood vessel (neovascularization) growth.

Surgery

Vitrectomy – In the event of the patient presenting with very advanced diabetic retinopathy, a surgical procedure known as vitrectomy is recommended. Blood-filled vitreous gel of the eye is replaced with a clear solution to aid in restoring vision. Sometimes the retina may also be detached and then the surgery involves reattaching the retina as well.

How to prevent visual loss in Diabetes?

Prevention of diabetic retinopathy and accompanying visual loss is a team effort involving the patient and our diabetic eye specialist. Early detection of diabetic retinopathy is the best protection against loss of vision. All diabetics must have their retinas examined at least once a year.