Diabetes is a condition that is soon going to affect more than half of the population worldwide. It is a silent disease that affects many parts of the body including the eye. This condition affects the blood vessels of the eye gradually leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy develops in 90% of patients having diabetes for 15years or more and are at risk of developing blindness over time. In this, only less than 10% of the people with diabetic retinopathy undergo regular screening by ophthalmologists. This is the condition in which bleeding and leakage of fatty deposits from blood vessels occur in the retina leading swelling in the retinal layers. In advanced conditions, abnormal vessels begin to grow along the surface of the retina. These abnormal vessels are fragile and often begin to bleed leading to blinding disease.
Patients with diabetic retinopathy usually do not have any symptoms until the disease progress to advanced stages. In advanced stages, patients may have sudden loss of vision due to bleeding or detachment of the retina. So this condition can be picked up early only on dilated examination of the retina. Hence regular dilated eye examination is must in the early diagnosis and treatment of this condition.
Detailed examination of the retina includes dilated retinal evaluation, microscopic examination of the retina by a procedure called Optical Coherence Tomography gives a measure of retinal swelling, Fundus photo that aids in documentation and monitoring of the disease.
Treatment of the condition firstly involves control of diabetes by lifestyle modification, diet, exercise, medications for control of blood sugar. Diabetic retinopathy when picked up in early stages, can be treated with a procedure called laser photocoagulation. This procedure is non – invasive involves burning out of abnormal blood vessels, thus controlling leakage and bleeding from vessels. Other modality of treatment includes injecting medications such as steroids, anti –vegf in the vitreous cavity of the eye to control the disease.
In advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, surgical intervention may be needed to treat the disease. More often the vision in advanced stages may be lost permanently.
To summarize, only best escape from the disease is not to run away from the disease, but to challenge the disease by keeping good control of blood sugar and have a regular diabetic eye check-up so that disease progression can be halted at the earliest.