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The Relationship Between Diabetes And Eye Problems

Monday, December 15, 2014 @ 09:12 PM
Author: Amit Mathur


Sight might seem like a simple function, but the science behind it is quite complex. When you look at something, light bounces off the object and into your eye, where the cornea and the lens help you to focus and place the light signals onto the retina. The retina, which has a complex blood vessel network, is a very delicate tissue with a high sensitivity to light. The retina has the ability to convert light signals into electric signals, a form that can travel to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain thereafter interprets the electric signals and helps an individual to ‘see’ what he or she is looking at.

Common eye conditions that can result from diabetes:

  •         Diabetic retinopathy – Here, diabetes damages the blood vessel network in the retina, resulting into serious eye complications.
  •         Cataracts – Here, the long-term result of having diabetes can result in the development of a cloudy substance in the lens.
  •         Blurring of vision – The fluctuation of the blood sugar levels in the body caused by diabetes can result into the fluctuation of blurring depending on how high or how low the sugar levels are.

Focusing on Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most serious eye conditions that can result from diabetes. Presence of the disease in the eye will lead to either blocking of the blood vessels to the retina or leaking of blood in the retina, a situation that will lead to serious vision problems. The type of diabetes and its seriousness will dictate the extent to which an individual’s vision will be affected. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes will lead to 40% and 20% chances of getting retinopathy respectively.

Diabetic retinopathy develops through the following stages:

  •         Background diabetic retinopathy – Here there is a very mild effect on the blood vessel, leading to slight bulging and slight fluid and blood leaks.  At this point, the disease has no effect on an individual’s vision.
  •         Proliferative diabetic retinopathy – This is the blocking of the blood vessels in the retina, leading to lack of oxygen in some sections of the retina. The eye will start growing more blood vessels to restore the normal oxygen supply, but the vessels that grow are weaker and susceptible to bleeding and result in hemorrhages that obscure vision or lead to total loss of sight.
  •         Diabetic maculopathy – Here, diabetes affects the macula, a condition that associates itself with the above forms of retinopathy. This condition affects the central vision, making it hard for an individual to see details clearly.

How to fight diabetic retinopathy

The best way to fight diabetic retinopathy is to control the diabetes in the body. Therefore, visiting a medical professional is at the top of the list, since he or she will help you to:

  1.       Go for retinal screening on a regular basis, since this will help detect the condition early and treat it before it gets worse
  2.       Control the glucose levels in the body
  3.       Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  4.       Check the levels of cholesterol you take in
  5.       Keep fit and give up smoking

The treatment of the condition

Thanks to the advancements in the medical field, it is possible for doctors to treat diabetic retinopathy using laser technology. This treatment works best for patients who discover the condition early enough, thereby placing emphasis on the need for routine eye checkups. The advantage of laser treatment is that no cutting is involved, therefore no blood bleeding will occur, and it can prevent new blood vessels from growing in the eye.

However, this laser eye treatment will not always result in improving a patient’s eyesight, though it will undoubtedly prevent the eye from becoming worse. Laser eye treatment for diabetic retinopathy can take either of the following procedures:

  •         Localized laser treatment – Here, the laser treatment seals leaking blood vessels, and reduces the level of swelling in the retina. This treatment is fast, and has no negative effect on a patient’s vision.
  •         Pan-retinal laser treatment – This treatment is more extensive compared to the localized laser treatment. This procedure seeks to treat a large section of the retina where new blood vessels are growing. The extensive nature of this treatment can lead to loss of peripheral vision, and can affect color perception and night vision.

The above treatment can result in a bit of eye discomfort, therefore using painkillers and eye drops will help to bring relief. The brightness of the laser can affect a patient’s sight for a few hours, but the situation improves after a while.

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