Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye (retina). Diabetic retinopathy may initially cause no noticable visual disturbances, but over time it can develop into a very serious disease.
We asked the ophthalmologist Dr Maya Mineva to explain the diabetic complication to us and to illustrate how we can treat this serious eye disease.
What are diabetes and diabetic retinopathy?
Dr Mineva explains the symptoms of diabetes below:
Diabetes is an endocrine-exchange disorder which affects several metabolisms – a major feature is persistent hyperglycaemia with a high pathogenic level, absolute or relative insulin deficiency, with vascular damage leading to high morbidity and death.
She also mentions several causes for the widespread disease: poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, stress and hereditary factors are the main causes of diabetes, in which the human body is unable to produce insulin.
By affecting all blood vessels, diabetes causes multiple organ damage, including eye deterioration. The most serious visual ailment generated by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which is one of the main causes of blindness. It develops at different levels and impairs vision irreversibly, in a variety of ways.
Can diabetic retinopathy be cured?
In its milder form, known as non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, it can be cured with laser therapy and drug treatment, in an outpatient setting.
The possibility of acting on the occurrence of complications caused by the more serious proliferative form of diabetic retinopathy is through vitreous surgery.
What can we do to protect ourselves from diabetic retinopathy?
The damage of the fundus of the eye is not visible or recognisable by the patient. To prevent serious complications, an ophthalmological visit is necessary at least once a year. Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy requires fluorescein angiography (FA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT), in addition to standard eye examination – visual acuity, anterior segment biomicroscopy and an examination of the widened pupils.