What is Diabetic Retionpathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition seen in people with diabetes whereby the tiny blood vessels in the retina are either blocked or are leaky. 95% of patients that have had diabetes for 20 years will have some signs of diabetic retinopathy but most will not suffer visual impairment nor require treatment. Some people with more severe disease will suffer swelling of their macula or proliferative diabetic retinopathy, which can result in visual impairment. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the growth of abnormal blood vessels within the eye which can result in loss of vision from bleeding or retinal detachment.
Causes and Symptoms:
Diabetic retinopathy becomes more common the longer one has diabetes, with poor diabetic control, with poorly controlled hypertension and with smoking. Many people with diabetic retinopathy have no symptoms but still have disease that can potentially result in loss of vision without timely treatment. In severe cases patients with diabetic retinopathy develop blurred vision and even complete loss of vision.
The risk of suffering visual impairment can be reduced by better control of ones diabetes, hypertension and by not smoking. Treatment specifically for diabetic retinopathy is required if one's macula is swollen and in some cases of severe and most cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Treatment will vary depending on the severity and location of macula swelling and presence or absence of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and involves either laser treatment to the retina or intraocular anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) therapy with medications such as Avastin, Lucentis or Eylea. Sometimes surgery such as a vitrectomy may be required.