Diabetes and retinopathy
DIABETES MELLITUS is a disease that can be inherited or acquired by bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and a number of factors, both environmental and cultural.
It is affecting more and more young people, removing the earlier beliefs that it was a disease of old people.
Chronic elevation of blood sugar levels is associated with damage to small and large blood vessels. In the eyes such damage causes blindness (retinopathy), in the kidney, failure (nephropathy) and it’s a cause of lower limb amputation due to blockage leading to gangrene.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of blindness in the Western world in the working population. fifty per cent of diabetics with over 10 years of knowledge of developing the disease have some degree of diabetic retinopathy; yet, it has no symptoms in the early stages. Poor circulation resulting in low blood oxygenation.
Macular edema (is the most important cause). It’s an inflammation of the visual centre in the retina.
Haemorrhages inside the eye (vitreous intraocular haemorrhage).
Glaucoma, which is the increase of the ocular tension by the occlusion of the drainage of the intraocular fluid (aqueous humor).
No diabetic retinopathy
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. With four levels: Mild, moderate, severe and very severe.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy. With three levels: No high-risk, highrisk, and advanced.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol aggravate the problem.
Diagnosis is performed by examining the ocular fundus with pupillary dilation and requires the appropriate follow-up by the ophthalmologist.
The most important underlying treatment is to optimise the control of blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol.
There are also treatment tools, such as laser treatment, surgery and adjuvant medications, and the choice of therapy depends on the type and stage of ocular complication. Periodic follow-up by the ophthalmologist is a must.
For those persons with diabetes, at least half-yearly checks are recommended, and for those without any known disease, a yearly check-up is wise.