DIABETIC RETINOPATHY: A COMMON CAUSE FOR BLINDNESS IN ADULTS
SEPT 10, 2019 @ 7.02PM
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease and is one of the main causes of blindness in adults.
Dr Manoharan Shunmugam, Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal surgeon from Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur explained that it is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.
“In some people, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina.
“Over time, diabetic retinopathy can get worse and cause vision loss. It usually affects both eyes but may be asymmetrical. Blood vessels damaged from diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss in two ways:
Proliferative retinopathy if not treated on time can lead to serious conditions such as (tractional) retinal detachments whereby abnormal blood vessels start pulling the retina off resulting in permanent vision loss.
Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell and blurring of vision. This condition is called macular oedema. It can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses. Half of the people with proliferative retinopathy also have macular edema.
How do you detect diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy and macular edema are detected during a comprehensive eye check that includes:
Visual acuity test: the eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances
Tonometry: an instrument measures the pressure inside the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to the eye for this test.
Dilated eye examination
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT): this is a special scan of the retina which displays a cross-sectional view of the retina and can calculate exactly how swollen the retina is.
If your eye care doctor believes you need treatment for macular edema, he may suggest a fluorescein angiogram. In this test, a special dye is injected into your arm. Pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the retina. The test allows the ophthalmologist to identify any leaking blood vessels and recommend treatment.
Blood sugar control slows onset of retinopathy
“The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy, expained Manoharan.
People with diabetes who kept their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible also had much less kidney and nerve disease. Better control also reduces the need for sight-saving laser.
Other studies have shown that controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss. Controlling these will help in overall health as well as help protect your vision. Maintaining good control of blood sugar levels will also mean you are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other diabetes-related complications.
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