Eyes are the mirror of the soul they say and truly the vision, one of our six precious senses accentuates the beauty of life. To be able to see is a marvel of its own and yet taken for granted. In this world of today, there are many perils to our vision that can plunge the world into darkness.
I am positive that you have heard that diabetes can lead to blindness. The official name for it is diabetic retinopathy. Owing to the high sugar level it can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the retina, leading them to leak, damage, causing the vision to blur and even cause complete loss of vision. This is how you may define diabetic retinopathy. Now, this condition progresses in two stages:
Non-proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: In this stage, the blood vessels may leak some fluid into the eye and cause blurriness. Also during this stage, the vessels may close off leading to no supply of blood leading to complications of vision.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: As the condition worsens, it progresses into this stage, where there are new blood vessels in the retina, but they are weak. Prone to leakage and bursting, this releases fluid into eyes, initially in small quantities and later in large quantities that may never clear out completely from eyes leading to impairment of vision.
Also at any stage, another complication can arise which is Diabetic Macular Edema. It is swelling in the retina area specifically macula.
Although initially there are no signs or symptoms of the condition, still a person may experience:
- Floaters: spots appearing in the vision
- Colour blindness
- Inability to detect light
This condition doesn’t differentiate between diabetic types, it affects both people suffering from type I and type II diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk. Other risk factors include pregnancy, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
Like we mentioned earlier there are no initial warning signs, so a regular check-up is your best bet to get an early treatment. There are a few tests through which the doctor may diagnose the condition:
- Pupil Dilation: In this, some drops are placed in the eyes, which widen the pupil letting the doctor check retina
- Optical Coherence Tomography: In this, the machine scans the retina and provides details of its thickness
- Fundus Fluorescein Angiography: Another imaging test, which shows any straining or leakage in the retina area
Once the extent of the damage is diagnosed, treatment is commenced, either through laser surgery or Anti-VEGF Injection Therapy (drugs are injected into vitreous gel, it blocks abnormal vessel growth in the retina and decreases the fluid in the retina). Some people may need surgery (Vitrectomy) to remove the excess amount of fluids from the eye.
Now, these treatments go a long way to clear the sight and help maintain it but do not cure diabetic retinopathy
The best strategy, however, is to delay the onset of it for as long as possible. There are a few things you can do to have an impact on it, mainly maintain your blood sugar levels, and control your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Opt for healthier life choices and you may relish everything that the world has to show to you.