Diabetes is one of the most common diseases and it causes diabetic retinopathy which is one of the leading causes of blindness. The only way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is by having regular eye examinations to look for the onset of symptoms and treat it in the early stages.
Diabetic retinopathy results from microangiopathy affecting the small blood vessels of the retina, resulting in ischemia, new blood vessel formation, and hemorrhages.
The risk factors for the development of diabetic retinopathy are:
- Duration of diabetes: more the duration of diabetes, more the incidence of diabetic retinopathy.
- Control of diabetes: better the control of diabetes, less are the chances of development of diabetic retinopathy.
- Co-existing factors: the presence of a positive family history of diabetes and co-existing diseases like hypertension, hyperlipidemia will increase the chance of diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy will lead to visual impairment depending on the stage. In the initial stages, mild to moderate visual impairment is seen because of retinal edema and retinal hemorrhages. In the advanced stages, severe visual impairment is seen because of vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment.
The treatment of diabetic retinopathy is by the use of laser photocoagulation by a procedure called as pan-retinal photocoagulation to remove the ischemia and to prevent the development of new blood vessels.
Hence all diabetics should undergo eye examination once a year to diagnose diabetic retinopathy in its earlier stages and to treat it by laser photocoagulation, thus preventing blindness.
At each visit, the ophthalmologist performs an examination of the retina by a procedure called indirect ophthalmoscopy to assess the state of the retina. Further treatment is planned depending on the severity of the condition.
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