Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most debilitating complications of diabetes. Proper management of diabetes and regular eye checkups is the only way to tackle with this problem effectively.
Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases in the world today. Almost all of us know of at least a relative or an acquaintance who suffers from this disease.
Diabetes is referred to as a multisystem disorder because it affects all the organs of our body from the eyes to the kidneys.
Diabetes affects the eyes leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. The blood vessels of the retina, the part of the eyes that is responsible for light sensitivity and vision, are affected.
Diabetic retinopathy affects people suffering from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The longer you have been suffering from the disease and the poorer the management of your sugars, the higher are the chances of suffering from diabetic retinopathy.
Pregnancy, tobacco, high cholesterol, and high BP are the additional factors that can lead to an early onset of diabetic retinopathy.
How does an elevated sugar level affect the eyes?
When there is a large amount of sugar in your blood, it causes the blood vessels in the retina to swell. These swollen blood vessels cause blood to ooze out into the retina, leading to vision problems. To compensate for this, the eye tries to grow new blood vessels. These new vessels are, at most times, irregularly formed and leak easily, which again leads to further symptoms. The developing blood vessels also lead to scar formation, which pulls on the retina and may lead to retinal detachment.
Diabetes is called as 'The Silent Killer' for a very good reason. The complications of the disease begin early, and in the initial stages, more often than not, the symptoms are not visible. When the symptoms start manifesting themselves, it is an indication that the disease has spread its roots far deeper.
Watch out for the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision.
- Floating black spots in front of the eyes.
- Fluctuating vision.
- Dark spots or invisible areas in your field of vision.
- Difficulty identifying or distinguishing between colors.
- Loss of vision.
If you can identify with any of the above symptoms, it would be best to see your doctor immediately.
If not detected in time, diabetic retinopathy may lead to serious complications like:
- Loss of vision.
- Retinal detachment.
- Vitreous hemorrhage.
Managing blood sugar levels is the only way to prolong the onset of diabetic retinopathy. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, getting sugar levels under control can help in slowing the progress of the disease. The doctor may advise you to get your eyes checked regularly. In advanced cases, depending upon the extent of damage, surgery is advised. Surgery helps to curb the progress and improve vision, but it does not qualify as a cure.
End-organ damage like diabetic retinopathy is a surety when one suffers from diabetes unless the levels are under check. It is, thus, in our hands to keep the sugar levels under control to push the onset of the complications to as late as possible!
Monitor your sugars regularly and have a checkup with an eye doctor yearly...prevention is the best than cure.