Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy, is the most serious diabetic ocular disease involving the retina and is one of the main causes of blindness.

Τhis is because the retinal vessels in individuals suffering from diabetes, may exhibit lesions which in turn cause further consequences such as bleeding inside the eye, glaucoma and detachment of the retina itself, resulting in irreversible loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is present in diabetics since their body cannot store or use sugar normally, so when the amount of sugar in the blood rises, the vessels of the eye are also affected by retinal vascular lesions. These vessels may break and cause bleeding (microarrays) and at an advanced stage pathogenic neovascularization may develop on the surface of the retina. This in turn may cause bleeding inside the eye and lead to retinal detachment and irreversible vision loss. Finally, the development of neovasculars in the iris can cause severe glaucoma. The diagram below shows the basic parts of the eye and how it is affected.

Diabetic Retinopathy, is the most serious diabetic ocular disease involving the retina and is one of the main causes of blindness.

Τhis is because the retinal vessels in individuals suffering from diabetes, may exhibit lesions which in turn cause further consequences such as bleeding inside the eye, glaucoma and detachment of the retina itself, resulting in irreversible loss of vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is present in diabetics since their body cannot store or use sugar normally, so when the amount of sugar in the blood rises, the vessels of the eye are also affected by retinal vascular lesions. These vessels may break and cause bleeding (microarrays) and at an advanced stage pathogenic neovascularization may develop on the surface of the retina. This in turn may cause bleeding inside the eye and lead to retinal detachment and irreversible vision loss. Finally, the development of neovasculars in the iris can cause severe glaucoma. The diagram below shows the basic parts of the eye and how it is affected.

Symptoms

diabetic retinopathyDuring the initial stages of diabetic retinopathy, no apparent symptoms appear in vision, however, progression to the severe form of the disease can be rapid.

Seeing flashes are usually symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, as is the difficulty of reading or having dark or empty areas in your vision. These symptoms can occur due to a collection of fluid in the macula (macular edema).

Other symptom's may be diplopia, which is a condition which affects the nerves responsible for controlling the eye muscles, nystagmus, eye pain, blurred or disturbed vision and the creation of murals in the field of vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your ophthalmologist. Diabetic patients should at least once each year perform a fundus scan to check the depth of their eye's.

If diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed then a specific examination called fluoroangiography should be performed. This is a test in which a pigment that reaches the blood vessels through the bloodstream is delivered into the body intravenously.

With the appearance of OCT angiography (which is available in our clinic), the above method has been replaced.

Diagnosis

Of course, the fact that an individual suffers from diabetes does not necessarily mean that they will also develop diabetic retinopathy, but there is an increase in the risk of developing a form of retinopathy. Because of this, diabetics should visit their ophthalmologist at regular intervals and undergo ophthalmic examinations, even if they have no nuisance to the eye's and show no symptoms, since it is early diagnosis that can save a person's vision.

Ways to diagnose diabetic retinopathy is with the detailed examination of the retina by fundus imaging. Then, there is a Cohesive Optical Tomography (OCT) which is a necessary test for diabetic macular edema. In addition, OCT angiography depicts even the earliest stages of vascular lesions due to diabetes.

For further information on OCT testing, please click HERE.

Treatments

Due to the damage that can be caused by diabetic retinopathy, the main treatments are laser surgery and inravitereal infusions.

During laser surgery, the laser sears the blood vessels that bleed to stop bleeding, and smaller rays are used to help stop the development of more abnormal vasculature.

With the treatment of intravitreal infusions (injections) a drug is injected into the vitreous that inhibits the growth of VEGF. VEGF is what helps the development of abnormal vasculature-neovascularization. With this method people have seen an improvement in their quality of vision, while those who had advance decrease in their vision due to diabetic retinopathy show satisfaction with the end result. However, it should be emphasized that this treatment must not be fragmentary but needs to be repeated at regular intervals, as the development of pathological neovasculars is continuous and the administration of drugs inactivates only those abnormal vasculature-neovascularization's already produced.