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Diabetic Retinopathy

This is a condition where damage is caused to the retina due to diabetic complications. This can eventually lead to blindness. Diabetic Retinopathy is an ocular manifestation of diabetes which is a systemic disease – this manifestation occurs within 80% of all patients who have had diabetes for over ten years. However research has indicated that least 90% of new cases could be reduced if proper and vigilant treatment is maintained and eyes are monitored.

There are no early warning signs for Diabetic Retinopathy. The first stage of this condition is Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy which is not visible to the naked eye but it can be detected by fundus photography.

Diabetic Retinopathy Eye ConditionAs abnormal new blood vessels (neovascularisation) form at the back of the eye as a part of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), they can burst and bleed (vitreous haemorrhage) and blur vision, because the new blood vessels are weak. The first time this happens, it may not be very severe. In most cases, it will leave just a few specks of blood, or spots, floating in a person's visual field, though the spots often go away after a few hours.

These spots are often followed within a few days or weeks by a much greater leakage of blood, which blurs vision. In extreme cases, a person will only be able to tell light from dark in that eye. It may take the blood anywhere from a few days to months or even years to clear from the inside of the eye, and in some cases the blood will not clear. These types of large haemorrhages tend to happen more than once, often during sleep.

There are three major treatments for diabetic retinopathy, which are very effective in reducing vision loss from this disease. In fact, even people with advanced retinopathy have a 90% chance of keeping their vision when they get treatment before the retina is severely damaged. These three treatments are laser surgery, injection of corticosteroids or Anti-VEGF into the eye, and vitrectomy.

Although these treatments are very successful (in slowing or stopping further vision loss), they do not cure diabetic retinopathy. Caution should be exercised in treatment with laser surgery since it causes a loss of retinal tissue. It is often more prudent to inject triamcinolone or Anti-VEGF. In some patients it results in a marked increase of vision, especially if there is an edema (accumulation of fluid) of the macula.

The photo above is an example of how a person affected by this condition will see... the blurring and spots obsure what is visable. 

Avoiding the use of tobacco and correcting associated hypertension are important therapeutic measures in the management of diabetic retinopathy.

The best way of addressing diabetic retinopathy is to monitor it vigilantly and ensure that any advances in the condition are dealt with quickly and effectively.

Below is a list of products which may suitable for those who are affected by Diabetic Retinopathy. Reading machines may be a more suitable choice as the severity of the condition may deem magnification aids unsuitable. 

Last Updated: November 13, 2013

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