Diabetic eye disease

In India, as of now, around 77 million people are living with diabetes. Anyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic eye disease. When diabetic control is bad for many years diabetes will damage the retina and will need extensive treatment to mitigate the damage.

What is Diabetic Eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease includes diabetic macular edema, non-proliferative and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also is a risk factor for developing other eye conditions like cataract, glaucoma, and vein occlusion.

What are the symptoms of diabetic eye disease?

Diabetic eye disease can be asymptomatic or can present with floaters, blurred vision, sudden onset of a shadow or curtain obstructing vision. The disease can be quite advanced before it turns symptomatic underlining the importance of regular eye examinations.

What are the risk factors of diabetic eye disease?

Some of the risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy:

  • Longer duration of diabetes

  • Uncontrolled elevated blood sugar levels

  • High cholesterol

  • Elevated blood pressure

What helps in diagnosing diabetic retinopathy in its early stages?

The disease can be quite severe before you notice any change in your vision. Therefore, an eye exam is advised within 5 years of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and as soon as a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is made. Regular follow up examinations will help identify diabetic damage to the eye in the early stages.

How do we treat diabetic retinopathy?

  • Through a complete clinical evaluation of the eye which includes vision, pressure measurement and a retinal evaluation

  • By assessing the retinopathy clinically, using fundus photography or fundus fluorescein angiography (FFA) and or OCT scan to decide the appropriate treatment

  • By assessing systemic factors like Hb, BP, Hb1AC, lipid profile and kidney function status that are found to play a significant role in the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy

  • Through management of the disease

  • Through follow up of the patient as per recommended guidelines

  • By educating the patient and the attenders about diabetes and diabetic retinopathy

  • Providing the patient with record of their FFA and color fundus photographic pictures in the form of print outs or CDs.

Can we prevent diabetic retinopathy?

Yes. By maintaining blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol parameters within normal range, by taking a diet with less animal fat, less salt and high fiber and by having periodical eye checkup as advised by your ophthalmologist, diabetic retinopathy can be prevented.