Diabetic retinopathy is an ocular complication derived from diabetes, in which high blood sugar levels cause the deterioration of the blood vessels that feed the cells of the retina, so that as this pathology progresses, symptoms such as blurred vision begin to appear, leading to very severe vision losses in advanced stages, and can even lead to blindness.
In this article, Dr. Cilveti, head of the ophthalmology unit at Vithas Xanit Internacional, explains below what this pathology consists of, the importance of its early detection and what its treatments are.
Stages of diabetic retinopathy
The evolution of diabetic retinopathy has several stages:
- In its early stages, it is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy, in which the retinal blood vessels begin to deteriorate. At first this does not yet produce obvious symptoms, going practically unnoticed by the patient, but as the pathology progresses and the damage to the blood vessels increases, they begin to swell and leak, which begins causing blurred vision and gradual loss of vision.
- In its most advanced stage, when the damage to the blood vessels is greater, they are not able to supply enough blood and oxygen to the retina, so new blood vessels begin to form, which is why this stage is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. However, these new blood vessels that form are abnormal and fragile, causing even more bleeding into the vitreous (a clear, jelly-like substance that occupies the inside of the eye), further obstructing vision. In addition, these new vessels can cause the appearance of scar tissue, which causes even more problems in the macula (central area of the retina) causing greater loss of vision and can even lead to other serious complications such as, for example, a retinal detachment.
The importance of early diagnosis in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy
As we have seen, the more diabetic retinopathy progresses, the more its symptoms worsen and the more complicated its treatment. In addition, when it is very advanced, even receiving the appropriate treatment it is only possible to recover part of the lost vision.
Therefore, early detection of this pathology is of great importance to prevent and minimize vision loss as much as possible.
However, as it does not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages, the only effective way to detect it early is through a fundus examination, which is why it is recommended that all those who suffer from diabetes go to the ophthalmologist for a fundus examination at least once a year.
Diabetic retinopathy treatments
To treat diabetic retinopathy, different treatments are used depending on how advanced it is. These treatments are summarized in the following:
- Medical control and medication: in the early stages, when the retinal blood vessels have barely deteriorated, adequate control of blood sugar levels and blood pressure may be enough to prevent or slow the progress of this pathology, preventing loss of vision. As the specialist considers, medication treatments are also used to keep the progression of this pathology at bay.
- Laser surgery: When diabetic retinopathy reaches the point where the blood vessels begin to bleed, a laser surgery treatment is carried out, by which the leaks from these vessels are sealed. In some cases, more than one laser surgery treatment is required.
- Vitrectomy: in advanced cases of proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the surgery known as vitrectomy is used, so that through this technique the surgeon can access the interior of the fundus of the eye and eliminate both the abnormal blood vessels that have been produced and the scars that have formed because of these, thus getting the light to focus correctly again on the retina, recovering part of the lost vision.
Diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy at Vithas Xanit Internacional
If you need to go to a preventive check-up for the early detection of diabetic retinopathy or other eye problems, or due to the appearance of any possible symptoms, remember that at Vithas Xanit Internacional we put at your disposal the best specialists in ophthalmology, who together with our cutting-edge technology allow us to offer you the most accurate diagnoses and the best treatment options, both for diabetic retinopathy and for any other vision problem.. If you are interested, do not hesitate to contact us for more information or make an appointment.