DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

All the information about Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

WHAT IS DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?

It is one of the main causes of blindness, produced when diabetes alters the blood vessels of the retina, decreasing vision.

In most cases, it affects both eyes. At the beginning, the patient will not notice any change in their vision; but over time, diabetic retinopathy may worsen and cause a severe loss of visual acuity.

WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETIC RETINOPATHY?

  • People with type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Pregnant women with diabetes

RISK FACTORS OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

  • Blood sugar levels: fundamental to take control of the sugar in blood, since, its reduction can delay the appearance of this disease.
  • Blood pressure: similarly can delay the onset of diabetic retinopathy and therefore a deterioration of vision. Keep track of blood pressure, since high blood pressure causes damage to blood vessels, which can cause eye damage.
  • Duration of diabetes: time is the enemy with this disease, since the probability of developing this pathology increases with the passage of time.
  • Levels of lipids in the blood (cholesterol and triglycerides): the higher the level of lipids in our blood, the greater the protein deposit that filters to the retina.
  • Ethnic origin: there are certain races with greater risk of suffering from diabetic retinopathy, such as Latinos, African-Americans or Native Americans.
  • Pregnancy: a diabetic pregnant woman is more likely to develop this pathology. After pregnancy these changes can be reversed if they have been treated correctly.

SYMPTOMS OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy is asymptomatic, hence the importance of performing annual comprehensive ophthalmological examinations.

As the disease progresses, symptoms begin to appear, which usually affect both eyes and may be the following:

  • Spots or floaters (myodesopsias)
  • Blurry vision
  • Dark areas in the field of vision
  • Bad night vision
  • Colours that appear discoloured
  • Sight loss

TYPES OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

The classification of Diabetic Retinopathy is as follows:

  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (RDNP): occurs at the beginning of the disease, blood vessels begin to change.
  • Within the RDNP we can find different degrees of Diabetic Retinopathy::
    • Mild non-proliferative retinopathy: gives rise to microaneurysms, that is, small dilatations in the blood vessels of the retina. It does not usually affect vision.
    • Moderate non-proliferative retinopathy: as the disease progresses, the blood vessels become blocked.
    • Severe non-proliferative retinopathy: more and more vessels are blocked, little by little the retina stops receiving blood and it begins to emit signals to the organism so that new blood vessels are created.
retinopatia diabetica
  • Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR): occurs in the most advanced stage of the disease, when most of the blood vessels located in the retina are already blocked, preventing blood from flowing. At this point, the body responds to those signals emitted by the retina, creating new vessels in order to supply blood to that area, called neovessels.
    This type of retinopathy can cause a serious loss of vision, affecting both peripheral and central vision, because the new vessels created are thin and fragile and a small trickle of blood from them would cause this damage or even blindness.

DIAGNOSIS OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

The way to detect this pathology is through a complete ophthalmological examination that includes the following medical tests:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Slit lamp examination
  • Fluorescein angiography AGF
  • Macular optic coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Ultrasound Ocular: in case you can not see the retina well as a cause of a vitreous haemorrhage.

TREATMENT OF DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

Diabetic Retinopathy in Madrid is approached with the following lines of treatment:

  • Diet, exercise and no smoking
  • Control of blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Laser photocoagulation
  • Injections
  • Surgery Vitrectomy: used in more severe or advanced cases, in which there is haemorrhage or retinal detachment.

The best existing treatment for this disease is the prevention and good control of diabetes.

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