Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Diabetic retinopathy is a type of retinal degeneration caused by prolonged damage to the retina due to diabetes. It is a progressive and chronic condition, occurring in stages, ranging from mild to severe and affecting vision in one or both eyes. While there is no known cure, treatments may help to minimize symptoms and slow the progression of damage.
What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes is the leading cause of diabetic retinopathy, due to the high levels of sugar in the blood that can damage the retina. This sugar builds up in the retina over time and causes changes in vessels that can cause swelling and leaking of fluid, leading to vision loss. In addition, hardening of the artery walls behind the eye can cause impaired blood flow to the retina, resulting in oxygen deprivation, death of nerve cells and further vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may vary based on the stage of the disease, but can include blurred vision or partial blindness, straight lines appearing distorted or wavy, increased difficulty seeing at night, and spots or floaters in the eye. In advanced stages, diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss that is not reversible.
Treatments for Diabetic Retinopathy
Early detection and prompt treatment can help to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy and may help to minimize vision loss. Treatments may include laser therapy, injection of anti-VEGF drugs, vitrectomy and/or intraocular implants.
Diabetic Retinopathy and Health
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness if left untreated, so it is important to take measures to prevent it. Managing diabetes is key to preventing or delaying the onset of diabetic retinopathy, as well as keeping any existing condition from worsening. A balanced diet, regular exercise and monitoring of blood sugar levels can help to keep diabetes under control. Regular eye examinations can also help detect diabetic retinopathy early enough to prevent serious vision impairment.