WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a common systemic condition that can cause blindness. This systemic condition can lead to diabetic retinopathy as time goes on. Diabetic retinopathy leads to the damage of retinal blood vessels. The damage of the retinal vasculature can cause leaking of fluid into the macula to form diabetic macular edema. Symptoms of blurry vision are noticeable when DME is present. If abnormal blood vessels start to grow due to the lack of oxygen getting to the retina, then the person may be at risk for developing a tractional retinal detachment or neovascular glaucoma.
The development of diabetic retinopathy is dependent on the following:
- Type of diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- The length of time a patient has had diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Blood sugar level
The treatment of diabetic retinopathy is dependent on the signs that are evident. If diabetic macular edema is seen then anti-VEGF or focal laser can be administered to restore vision. If there is new blood vessel growth on the retina then laser photocoagulation therapy is needed to ablate these vessels. It is important for diabetic patients to receive annual check-ups for retinopathy because signs can be evident before symptoms are actually experienced.