Visual impairment due to diabetes

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disease in people with diabetes. It is when high blood sugar level damage the blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell, leak or block, preventing blood from flowing. Such damage to the blood vessels in the eye can lead to visual impairment, severe vitreous haemorrhage and in severe cases of neglect, blindness.

Stages of eye disease
caused by diabetes

Diabetes-related eye disease has two main stages:

  • Early stage
    (NPDR/non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

    An early stage of diabetic eye disease occurs in many people with diabetes. In the early stages, tiny blood vessels leak, causing the retina to swell. In the retina, if the place of sharp vision (macula) also swells, it is called macular oedema. This is the most common reason why diabetics’ vision becomes blurred, gradually deteriorates and they may lose their sight without treatment. Macular oedema is the most common cause of visual impairment in diabetes.
  • Advanced stage
    (PDR/proliferative diabetic retinopathy)

    The more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease, which occurs when new blood vessel growth starts in the retina. These fragile new blood vessels often bleed, and blood is pumped into the vitreous humour. When the bleeding is light, you may see some dark floaters, when the bleeding is more severe, it can completely block the path of light and therefore the patient’s vision. These new blood vessels can form scar tissue, which can cause problems in the macula or lead to detachment of the nerve sheath. PDR is a very serious condition that can damage both central and peripheral vision.

The secret to preventing vision problems caused by diabetes:
regular check-ups and proper treatment

What should you know if you have diabetes?

  • Keeping blood sugar at normal levels, minimising its daily fluctuation, is the best protection against complications.
  • Diabetes is often associated with high blood pressure, which increases vascular damage. It is important to keep blood pressure at normal levels.
  • It is essential to follow the recommended diet to reduce fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  • Regular exercise is also important to help keep blood sugar levels in balance.
  • An eye check at least once a year is mandatory!
  • Pregnant women with diabetes should have their fundus checked more often during pregnancy, as retinopathy can worsen.
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can cause changes in near or distant vision, this does not mean retinopathy, but it may mean that diabetes management is inadequate.
  • Because fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect the refraction of the eye, glasses should only be changed when blood sugar levels are well controlled.

In order to avoid irreversible eye damage, it is important for all diabetic patients to have an annual check-up, even if they do not have any eye complaints.

Regular eye examinations are important not only for the detection and treatment of ocular fundus complications. Diabetics are also more likely to develop other eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. If the retina is damaged, the condition of the eye can be improved by laser treatment. n some cases, injections of medication into the eye may be the solution, and in severe cases, surgery may be required.

Diabetic retinopathy is treatable, we help you to detect and professionally treat diabetes-related vision problems early.


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