The risks associated with diabetes are becoming increasingly evident. Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to serious health problems, such as negative effect on heart and blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, coupled with higher risk of developing infections. While many of these are traditional complications associated with diabetes, a serious complication is blindness, as a result of diabetic retinopathy formation.
It is critical to increase the level of awareness of diabetic retinopathy amongst individuals with diabetes mellitus for early diagnosis and management.
Evidently, diabetes is the primary cause of blindness in adults between the ages of 20 to 74 worldwide.With approximately 72 million of people in India suffering with diabetes, it accounts for nearly 7.1% of the country’s adult population.According to International Diabetes Federation, people with diabetes are expected to develop some form of eye disease (retinopathy),leading to reduced vision or blindness. Consistently high levels of blood glucose, blood pressure and high cholesterol, are the main causes of retinopathy.
All diabetes patents – both type 1 and type 2 – are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they are to develop diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetic retinopathy have damaged blood vessels in their retinal layer; a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye.Prolonged high blood sugar levels in diabetics can cause damage or swelling to the small blood vessels in the retina.Retina is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of your eye andone needs a healthy retina to have a clear vision. “Diabetic retinopathy damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina that might lead to complete loss of vision if left untreated,” says Dr. Arindam Dey, Head- CDMA, Alcon India.
Diabetic Retinopathy- Facts you should know
Diabetic retinopathy can be managed through regular eye check-ups. Many diabetics are unaware that chronically high blood sugar may result in eye damage. Diabetes is still majorly associated with kidney failure and cardiovascular problems. It is time to raise the awareness levels and encourage diabetes patients to go for periodic eye consultations.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Ideally,diabetic retinopathy does not cause noticeable symptoms until significant damage has occurred. It usually affects both eyes and complications that indicate the onset of diabetic retinopathy. Few symptoms are:
- Blurred or distorted vision, or difficulty in reading
- Floaters, which are dark objects that “float” across the field of vision
- Distorted colour vision
- Partial or total loss of vision
While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy; early detection and timely treatment is often effective in preventing, delaying or reducing vision loss. Further, diabetic patients should make dietary changes to control their glucose and lipid levels.
Diabetic retinopathy can be a big problem for pregnant women who have diabetes.To protect vision, women at risk should have a comprehensive dilated eye examination upon confirmation of pregnancy, as well as additional medical tests as recommended by the doctor.
Adolescent diabetics must have their eyes examined at least once a year after the age of 12 years, asdiabetic retinopathy is rarely known to occur before puberty.
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