Diabetic retinopathy signs and treatments

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The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has ever claimed that diabetes patients are 25 times more likely to suffer vision loss than ordinary individuals. However, there are less serious eye diseases that are also caused by diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. It is widely known that diabetic patients can not consume and store sugar in a normal way, resulting in high blood sugar. This condition may damage the blood vessels and diabetic retinopathy will be caused. More seriously, scarring tissues can be caused and retinal detachment may follow.

Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy

High blood sugar in diabetic patients brings great risks and these patients do not know when diabetic retinopathy happens. The reason is that this eye disease usually has no noticeable warning signs. As described below, retinopathy causes noticeable signs such as blurry vision only when it enters a proliferative stage. In this sense, diabetes retinopathy relies highly on early detection through professional eye exams. For people once diagnosed with diabetes, it is necessary to take a dilated eye exam every year, which will help in detecting early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms and diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy

External symptoms of mild and advanced diabetic retinopathy include floaters and double vision. If you have difficulty in reading, there is probably macular edema resulting from fluid build-up in the macula. Double vision is usually caused by abnormal eye nerves. For precise diagnosis, a test named fluorescein angiography should be carried out. Injected into the body, the dye will be tracked during its spread with blood flow. Evaluation of the result photos can determine the severity of diabetic retinopathy.

Two retinopathy forms with different severities

Diabetic retinopathy has different stages. An early form of diabetic retinopathy displays in fluid leakage and bleeding in the retina, which cause the retina to swell and build up deposit. Experts define this form of diabetic retinopathy as non-proliferative retinopathy or background retinopathy. Also named as proliferative retinopathy, a later stage of retinopathy is much more serious. New blood vessels begin to grow and break abnormally and bleed into the center of the eye, which may lead to blindness.

Surgical treatments for diabetic retinopathy

Once an early detection is made, diabetic retinopathy can be treated successfully at a percentage of 95. For normal cases of diabetic retinopathy, a painless procedure named laser photocoagulation can be used to seal off leaking blood vessels and remove new vessel growth. In addition, diabetes-caused cataracts can be cured with cataract surgery. Investigational treatments for diabetic retinopathy are reported to improve the patient’s vision, e.g. C-peptide and pine bark extract. Moreover, Lucentis and Avastin initially used for treating macular degeneration have been proved to be effective for diabetic retinopathy treatment by stopping vision loss.

Prevention is highly recommended

Even if there have been some effective treatments for retinopathy, a certain degree of vision damage or loss is inevitable. Prevention is always worth more attention than treatment. In fact, there are suggested some ways to reduce the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Since the disease is mostly associated with diabetes, the most preventive way is to control the blood sugar level. Regular exercises and healthy diet are also important. In particular, diabetes sufferers are highly encouraged to take care of their diet which should be high in dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, but low in fat. Some exports also encourage diabetes patients to reduce their intake of carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index. For early detection, it is a necessity to monitor the blood sugar level regularly.