Frequently Asked Questions about Diabetic Retinopathy
1. What exactly is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which high blood sugar causes retinal blood vessels to swell and leak blood.
2. Who's at the most risk for diabetic retinopathy?
Fluctuating blood sugar levels lead to an increased risk of this disease, as does long-term diabetes. Most people don't develop diabetic retinopathy until they've had diabetes for at least 10 years.
3. Is there any way to prevent diabetic retinopathy?
Keeping your blood sugar at an even
level can help prevent diabetic retinopathy. If you have high blood
pressure, keeping that under control is helpful as well. Even controlled
diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, so you should have your
eyes examined once a year; that way, your doctor can begin treating
any retinal damage as soon as possible.
4. What are the signs and symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, you might have no symptoms at all, or you might have blurred vision. In the later stages, you develop cloudy vision, blind spots or floaters.
5. What are the different types of diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is classified as either nonproliferative (background) or proliferative. Nonproliferative retinopathy is the early stage, where small retinal blood vessels break and leak.
In proliferative retinopathy, new blood vessels grow abnormally within the retina. This new growth can cause scarring or retinal detachment, which can lead to vision loss. The new blood vessels may also grow or bleed into the vitreous humor, the transparent gel filling the eyeball in front of the retina. Proliferative retinopathy is much more serious than the nonproliferative form and can lead to total blindness.
Macular degeneration, often called AMD or ARMD (for age-related macular degeneration), is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 65 and older. Because older people represent an increasingly larger percentage of the general population, vision loss associated with AMD is a growing problem.
Archives of Ophthalmology in 2004 estimated that 1.75 million U.S. residents now have significant symptoms associated with age-related macular degeneration, with that number expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020.
AMD is a degenerative condition of the macula, which is the part of the retina responsible for the sharp, central vision needed to read or drive. Because AMD affects the macula, central vision loss may occur.
Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). The dry form is more common than the wet, with about 85%-90% of AMD patients diagnosed with dry AMD. The wet form of the disease usually leads to more serious vision loss.
Detachment of the retina from the outer supportive layer of the eye is a very serious condition. It is caused by a tear in the retina that allows the retina to separate from the eye wall. It is usually an emergency procedure when the tear is large or when the detachment does not involve the macula. In all cases it needs to be repaired.
Treatment of Retinal Detachment
Immediate surgical treatment is necessary. Vitrectomy, Laser Surgery, Cryotherapy, C3F8 Gas, and Scleral Buckle are some of the surgical procedures that would need to be performed for this condition. The procedure performed would be based upon the physician's findings.