What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Guardion Health Sciences
Diabetes affects the health of many areas of the body, including the eyes. People with diabetes are prone to developing certain eye diseases that have the potential to cause vision loss or blindness. One of the most common forms of diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, which affects the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, known as the retina.
Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy affects the blood vessels in the retina. High blood sugar levels can damage these tiny vessels, causing them to swell and leak blood or fluid. If the blood and fluid leak into the macula, or central portion of the retina, blurry vision can occur.
Types of Diabetic Retinopathy
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy.
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy is the earlier stage of the disease. At this point, the damaged blood vessels swell and leak blood, other fluid and sometimes cholesterol deposits into the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy usually starts out slowly and progresses gradually. Often, people with early stage or nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy do not notice any changes to their vision.
As diabetic retinopathy progresses, new blood vessels can grow in the retina (called neovascularization). When blood vessels in the retina close, it compromises the blood flow to the area, and the retina responds by growing new blood vessels to supply blood to the area. This stage is called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. However, the new blood vessels are atypical, very fragile and can bleed easily. The bleeding can sometimes cause visual disturbances known as “floaters,” which are spots, specks or lines that appear to float around in the field of vision. The abnormal blood vessels are often accompanied by scar tissue that may cause the retina to wrinkle or detach from the back wall of the eye.
About half of all people with diabetic retinopathy develop diabetic macular edema, which is a buildup of fluid in the macula (the central portion of the retina responsible for fine detail vision). Diabetic macular edema can jeopardize the sharp, straight-ahead vision necessary to recognize faces, read and drive safely.
Detecting Diabetic Retinopathy
Left undetected, diabetic retinopathy will continue to advance and lead to the loss of vision. Sometimes this loss of vision is irreversible. Early detection is key to properly managing diabetic retinopathy and stopping it from progressing.
Because early diabetic retinopathy may not produce any noticeable symptoms, regular eye exams are recommended for people with diabetes. These exams allow an ophthalmologist or optometrist a detailed look inside the eye to check the internal structures for any signs of damage.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment
Treating diabetic retinopathy depends on the situation, particularly the stage of the disease. Some cases do not require any treatment — simply close monitoring with frequent eye exams.
Medications such as steroids or anti-VEGF medications may be used to stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Anti-VEGF drugs block a protein that triggers the development of new, atypical blood vessels.
Laser treatment can be performed to stop the blood vessels from leaking blood and fluid, and shrink atypical vessels.
In cases where blood vessels, blood and scar tissue are present in the gel that fills the inside of the eye (the vitreous), a vitrectomy may be performed to remove the vitreous and replace it with a gas bubble, silicone oil or saltwater.
Promote Ocular Health with Lumega-Z
Of course, getting the proper nutrients is also critical to achieving and maintaining ocular health with diabetes. For more information about the nutrients you need and how to get them in Lumega-Z, please contact Guardion Health Sciences today.