The most common conditions affecting the retina are:
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which a person has high blood sugar. It is an epidemic with a global estimation of 285 million people being affected by diabetes in 2010. 93 million people have been reported to have diabetic retinopathy, with 17 million having proliferative disease and 21 million having diabetic macular edema worldwide.
As the name suggests, it is the damage in one’s eye (retina) due to diabetes. This can eventually lead to blindness. It affects up to 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for 10 years or more. Research indicates that 90% of these cases could be managed well with vigilant monitoring and early and appropriate treatment. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher his or her chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. The blindness induced by diabetes becomes irreversible if not treated on time. Beyond a particular stage, vision can never be restored. Hence it is important to catch the diabetic changes in the treatable stage, which is possible only by regular check-ups
There are different entities related to diabetic retinopathy- non proliferative (NPDR)/ proliferative (PDR) retinopathy and diabetic macular edema Patient usually needs treatment when they develop PDR or Macular edema.
1. If Diabetes is well controlled diabetic retinopathy never develops.
Truth: Diabetic changes in retina are most importantly related to the duration of diabetes. A well controlled diabetic may have very advanced damage inside the eye. However it is true that if your sugars are not well controlled, these blinding changes may happen very early and reach an advanced stage very fast.
2. Vision will get affected once the damage starts.
Truth: Proliferative stage of the disease which requires treatment on priority basis, usually does not affect the vision in early stages, until it bleeds inside the eye or it goes to a stage when it can be treated only by surgery. However, it is true that vision usually gets affected in diabetic macular edema, another stage of disease which requires treatment. But since patient uses both eyes, he may not be able to pick up symptoms in one eye, until the damage is advanced. Hence it is important to have a regular eye check up by a retina surgeon to pick up these treatable stages early, so that your vision could be preserved.
Non proliferative and Early Proliferative stages usually do not cause any symptoms. Painless loss of vision occurs only when the damage is advanced like bleeding inside the eye, retinal detachment etc. Difficulty in reading, recognizing faces, need of brighter light to read etc., are few symptoms which indicate macular edema. So if you are a well controlled diabetic with good vision, it doesn’t mean that your eyes are not damaged by diabetes.
Treatment depends upon stage of the disease:
It is very important to have strict metabolic control of blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and kidney functions, to have good results with treatment. The entire treatment may fail if systemic parameters are not well controlled.
We at drishtiCONE eye care, do diabetic screening and provide all services related to diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy including LASER, intravitreal injections (avastin/ Lucentis/ Ozurdex/ Triamcinolone acetonide) and complex vitreoretinal surgeries.
EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT of Proliferative stage of disease and diabetic macular edema is paramount to prevent complete blindness in diabetic patients
REMEMBER: Diabetic eye disease is related to the duration of diabetes, even if the blood sugars are well controlled. Once under treatment, we try to maintain your vision and prevent further vision loss. Like diabetes is a lifelong disease, so is the eye disease due to diabetes and hence you need eye care lifelong to enjoy good vision.