If you've been suffering from diabetes for some time, you know that you need to keep your diet under strict control and watch out for the development of any side effects as carefully as you can. Your eyesight is one area in particular that you need to concentrate on, as you may be at risk of contracting a condition called diabetic retinopathy. What do you need to know about this condition, how it is diagnosed and how it can be controlled?
When someone is diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, this means that the blood vessels contained within the centre of the eye, or retina, have begun to deteriorate. This can manifest in two different ways, one of which is known as macular oedema.
With the more usual, or 'proliferative' form of diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels do not receive the appropriate supply of blood, and this can cause the retinal tissue to die off. As this happens, scar tissue begins to build up, and as it moves slowly towards the centre of the eye, the patient will begin to lose vision. There is also a risk of a retinal detachment if the scar tissue accumulates to such an extent that it stretches the side of the retina itself.
If you are diagnosed with macular oedema, however, this will lead to swelling in the retina and, once again, vision will slowly deteriorate and will eventually disappear.
It's very important for you to have regular examinations,so the doctor can look for early signs of this condition. You should also be aware of any unusual symptoms yourself, such as the feeling of pressure within the eye, a sudden onset of floaters or a general deterioration in your field of vision.
You can keep your diabetes under control as well to reduce the chance of any retinopathy or oedema. Keep your blood pressure in check, monitor your blood sugar and control cholesterol levels very carefully.
If you do develop diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may be able to treat it using a sequence of injections or a laser machine. These may help to slow the growth of blood vessels within the eye and, as a consequence, keep the progression of the disease in check.
If you have diabetes and suspect that there may be something wrong with your eyesight, see a specialist as soon as possible. With intervention, you may be able to keep it in check and avoid the worst repercussions.
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