Damage to the eyes can be a complication of diabetes needing specialist care. Take precautions, before you go out of sight.
There are an estimated 7,000 people living with diabetes in Oman and as many as 33 per cent of the population are pre-diabetic.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).
Experts from Burjeel Hospital, which has a medical centre in Azaiba, Muscat, offer the following advice on the condition:
People with all types of diabetes (type 1, type 2 and gestational) are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. Risk increases the longer a person has diabetes. Women who develop or have diabetes during pregnancy may have rapid onset or worsening of diabetic retinopathy.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually lack any symptoms. The disease often progresses unnoticed until it affects vision. Bleeding from abnormal retinal blood vessels can cause the appearance of “floating” spots. If DME occurs, it can cause blurred vision.
Diabetic retinopathy and DME are detected during a comprehensive eye exam that includes:
A doctor can check the retina for:
Vision lost to diabetic retinopathy can be irreversible. However, early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness by 95 percent.
Controlling elevated blood pressure and cholesterol can reduce the risk of vision loss among people with diabetes.
The underlying cause of diabetic retinopathy is uncontrolled diabetes. Therefore, a strict control of diabetes is critically important.
The early stages of diabetic retinopathy with no added complications do not need treatment, and patients are advised to monitor strict blood sugar control, with an ophthalmologist.
If a patient develops diabetic macular edema, treatments can vary from the use of a focal retinal laser to intravitreal injections or a combination of both.
Later stages of diabetic retinopathy will probably need retinal lasers along with the treatment of associated problems.
Complications of diabetic retinopathy, such as cataract or neo vascular glaucoma, can be managed on a case-by-case basis.
To sum up, any irregularity in vision should be dealt with as soon as possible.