The Visionaries
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Leigh Vision Impaired Self Help Group


DIABETIC RETINOPATHY

What is it?

Our bodies use food as a source of energy. The main source of energy in food is glucose, a form of sugar. As food is digested, it is broken down into glucose molecules which enter the bloodstream and are distributed to cells throughout the body. For glucose to enter cells, however, insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, must be present.
Normally, enough insulin is produced to move glucose into cells. In people with diabetes, however, either not enough insulin is produced or cells do not respond properly to the insulin. As a result, glucose remains in the blood and cells are not provided with their main energy source.

High blood sugar levels affect many tissues in the body including the skin, heart, kidneys, nervous system, feet, teeth, gums and eyes. Diabetic retinopathy refers to damage to the blood vessels of the retina caused by diabetes. These blood vessels bring oxygen and nutrients to the retina. When the blood vessels become damaged, they weaken and sometimes break, leaking fluid into the retina and causing the retina may to swell. As new blood vessels grow on the retina, blurred vision or temporary blindness can result. Scare tissue can form and cause blindness where old blood vessles were attached to the retina.

 

 

Symptoms

Diabetic neuropathy may cause:

Spots floating in the visual field

Vision loss

Poor night vision

Blurred vision

 


Risk Factors

Diabetes

Kidney Disease: people with kidney disease have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy.

High Blood Pressure: people with high blood pressure have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy.

High Blood Fat: people with high blood fat have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Obesity: people who are overweight have an an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy.

Pregnancy: women who are pregnant have an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy.

 

Diagnosis

Eye Examination:an eye doctor will look for a swollen retina, leaking blood vessels, optic nerve damage, and retinal detachments. .

Treatment

Photocoagulation: a laser is used to stop bleeding of retinal blood vessels.

Vitrectomy: the vitreous and scar tissue is removed and then replaced with clear fluid.