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Diabetic eye disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About diabetic eye disease

The term diabetic eye disease implies various eye problems that can occur in patients with diabetes mellitus. These include diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma. They may cause visual impairment and even blindness.

Diabetic eye disease: Incidence, age and sex

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and is the leading cause of blindness. About one-third of diabetics develop retinopathy.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic eye disease: Diagnosis

There are usually no symptoms of diabetic retinopathy in early stages. Blurred vision may occur if there is swelling of the macula, the central part of the retina. One may experience floaters or dark spots in front of the eye. Sometimes, there may be bleeding into the retina which may cause sudden loss of vision.

Patients with diabetes are advised to get a comprehensive eye examination at least once a year. The diagnosis is established by fundus examination which is conducted after papillary dilatation by an expert eye specialist.

Causes and prevention of diabetic eye disease

Diabetic retinopathy occurs more frequently in patients in whom blood sugar and blood pressure are not being controlled adequately. There are several large clinical trials which have shown that a good control of blood sugar can delay the onset and retard the progression of retinopathy. Since it does not lead to visual symptoms until it is very advanced, routine screening is of prime importance in early detection.

Diabetic eye disease: Complications

Diabetic retinopathy progresses through various stages. The earliest stage is mild, non-proliferative retinopathy in which swelling of retinal blood vessels or micro aneurysms occur. In the advanced stages, there is proliferative retinopathy or growth of new blood vessels in retina. These blood vessels can bleed and can cause severe vision loss and blindness. Additionally there may be swelling of the macula or macular oedema which results in blurring of central vision.

Diabetic eye disease: Treatment

In the initial stages, the treatment involves control of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. In advanced stages or proliferative retinopathy, laser treatment is needed. In this procedure, 1000 to 2000 laser burns are placed in the retina which cause abnormal blood vessel to shrink. If there is severe bleeding, surgery called vitrectomy may be needed. However, laser surgery cannot restore the lost vision. Now-a-days there are certain injections which are given into the eye to prevent the formation of new blood vessels.

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