Diabetes is a disease that obstructs the body’s ability to use and store sugar, resulting in various health problems. Excessive sugar in the blood can damage the body, including the eyes.
Diabetic retinopathy is the condition wherein damage is caused to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. They leak blood and other fluids that result in swelling of retinal tissue and cloudy vision. The condition normally affects both eyes. If ignored, diabetic retinopathy can eventually cause blindness.
Type 1 and type 2 people have a higher predisposition to developing diabetic retinopathy. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher the risk to develop diabetic retinopathy. Approximately 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is categorized into 2 groups:
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) – is the initial state in which symptoms will be mild or non-existent. In NPDR, the blood vessels in the retina are damaged causing tiny swellings called microanuerysms to project from their walls. The microanuerysms may leak fluid into the retina, which may lead to swelling of the macula.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is the more progressive form of the disease. In an effort to better blood circulation in the retina, new, fragile blood vessels may form on its surface. These fragile, abnormal blood vessels can leak blood into the back of the eye, resulting in cloudy vision. Associated scar tissue can contract and cause retinal detachment—the pulling away of the retina from underlying tissue, like wallpaper peeling away from a wall and the development of glaucoma. Retinal detachment can lead to permanent vision loss.
Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Therefore it is recommended that diabetics have a comprehensive dilated eye examination yearly. Timely detection and treatment can help prevent blindness.
E138 – Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy – www.diabetic.today