Diabetic Retinopathy, Symptoms and Prevention
by Optoplus / November 2023
Considered to be one of the most common chronic diseases in the world, over 2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes. Although it can be controlled, this condition naturally requires its share of adjustments: taking medication, maintaining a healthy diet, controlling blood sugar levels and regulating high blood pressure. Did you know that poorly managed diabetes can leave you vulnerable to diabetic retinopathy – the leading cause of blindness in Canadian adults? Here’s everything you need to know about diabetic retinopathy to keep your eyes healthy for years to come.
1 - What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
When blood sugar levels are too high, the small blood vessels in the retina can be affected; they swell or leak, which in some cases can lead to the damage of part of the retina. The lack of irrigation inside the eye then causes new blood vessels to form that are abnormal and more fragile than the previous ones, causing new haemorrhages, this time permanently damaging vision. At this stage, the retina may shrink, tear or even detach, causing serious damage to the eye and leading to blindness.
2 - What are the Symptoms?
Diabetic retinopathy may initially be asymptomatic or cause mild vision problems. However, if left unchecked, it can cause permanent changes such as myopia, hyperopia or total visual impairment. Early signs to retinopathy include:
- blurred vision
- flashes of light in the vision
- an inability to see colours
- floaters, black spots or holes in the field of vision
- loss of vision
3 - How Can Diabetic Retinopathy be Prevented?
Good management of diabetes and hypertension is key to slowing the progression of the disease. Laser surgery may also be used to seal small, leaky blood vessels, or a vitrectomy may be performed in cases of haemorrhage or retinal detachment.
But before you get to that point, did you know that a comprehensive eye exam at an eye clinic can, in some cases, detect diabetes in its early stages? Optometrists can sometimes detect signs of diabetes before it has even been diagnosed. Early detection not only means that you can take the appropriate measures to protect your vision at an early stage, but also means that you can prevent other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease.
The health of your eyes is precious; be sure to have a yearly eye exam to detect any changes early on. Make an appointment at an OPTOPLUS clinic near you to benefit from the great care of our optometrists.
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