Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is also known as diabetic eye disease. At least 90% of new cases could be reduced with proper treatment and monitoring of the eyes. It is a leading cause of blindness.

A medical condition in which damage occurs to the retina due to diabetes mellitus. Diabetic retinopathy affects up to 80 percent of those who have had diabetes for 20 years or more. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher his or her chances of developing diabetic retinopathy

Symptoms

The first stage, called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), has no symptoms. Patients may not notice the signs and have 20/20 vision. The only way to detect NPDR is by fundus photography, in which microaneurysms (microscopic blood-filled bulges in the artery walls) can be seen. If there is reduced vision, fluorescein angiography can show narrowing or blocked retinal blood vessels clearly (lack of blood flow or retinal ischemia).

Causes

All people with diabetes mellitus are at risk – those with Type I diabetes and those with Type II diabetes. The longer a person has had diabetes, the higher their risk of developing some ocular problem.

Treatment

There are three major treatments for diabetic retinopathy, which are very effective in reducing vision loss from this disease. In fact, even people with advanced retinopathy have a 95 percent chance of keeping their vision when they get treatment before the retina is severely damaged.

These three treatments are:

  • Laser surgery
  • Injection of corticosteroids anti-VEGF agents into the eye
  • Vitrectomy

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