Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that goes to affect the eyes. It is a damage of the retinal blood vessels, the fabric of the light-sensitive part of the eye. It can develop in people who suffer from diabetes type 1 and type 2 diabetes in patients with a long history of diabetes, and in cases where the blood sugar has been controlled for long periods incorrectly the risk is more frequent of retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
There are two types of retinopathy. Early Diabetic Retinopathy also known as non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR), which can be mild, moderate or severe. With progression of the disease the blood vessel walls weaken and are subject to micro-aneurysms, small swellings that become damaged, giving rise to bleeding. Then there is the real risk to form an accumulation of fluid (edema) in the central part of the cornea (the macula) going to cause a reduction of vision.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) or Advanced is the most severe form of the disease because it coincides with the abnormal formation of new blood vessels in retinal damage. The neovascularization are also stimulated by the formation of ischemic areas in the retina. This can lead to retinal detachment, or an abnormal fluid in the eye causing glaucoma flow.
What are the causes of diabetic retinopathy?
Primary cause is diabetes, especially if poorly controlled, facilitates an abnormal growth of weak blood vessels, more subject to breakage or smaller. This causes less capacity to transport oxygen to the retinal tissues. Generally the retinopathy is dependent of both eyes.
What are the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy?
The symptoms of diabetic retinopathy are:
spots or dark filaments that float before the eyes (floaters)
dark areas and loss of visual acuity
difficulties in color perception
The methods used for the initial diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy are:
Color photos of the fund, performed with the fundus camera;
Retininica fluorescein angiography, to determine the presence of ischemic areas for signs of diabetic retinopathy prolieferante.
Computerized axial tomography (CAT), which allows a detailed study of the macula and optic nerve.
In case of non-proliferative retinopathy and macular edema in the presence of the preferred treatment is laser photocoagulation, with focal or grid pattern, to reduce edema, contain the progress of the disease and restore visual function. In the event of clinically significant macular edema (CSME) you can intervene with intravitreal injections of drugs to stop the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a molecule involved in the abnormal growth of blood vessels.
Treatment for nonproliferative retinopathy with ischemic areas requires a careful and extensive photo ablation. In the presence of intraocular bleeding (emovitreo) and detachment of the retina to pull their treatment is vitrectomy.
The Retinopathy is a “silent” disease that can develop for years without symptoms, until it affects the macula. Proper control of diabetic retinopathy can reduce by 90% the 5-year risk of developing blindness in patients with proliferative retinopathy. Unfortunately, according to current statistics, only 1 of 2 diabetic patients undergoing a periodic checks to prevent and ward off the advance of the disease and the risk of losing his sight.