Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that affects people with diabetes and can lead to vision loss and blindness. It is a common complication of diabetes and one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. In London, many people with diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. Therefore, it is essential to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. The retina is a thin layer of tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for converting light into signals that are sent to the brain. When the blood vessels in the retina are damaged, they may leak fluid or blood, which can cause swelling and vision loss.
Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy may not cause symptoms in the early stages, which is why it is crucial to have regular eye exams. However, as the condition progresses, some common symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Dark or empty areas in your vision
- Difficulty seeing at night
- Spots or strings floating in your vision
- Reduced colour vision
- Complete vision loss
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
The main cause of diabetic retinopathy is high blood sugar levels, which can damage the blood vessels in the retina. Over time, this damage can cause the blood vessels to leak or become blocked, leading to vision loss.
People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy if they have:
- Poorly controlled blood sugar levels
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Diabetes for a long time
Treatment Options for Diabetic Retinopathy
The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the stage of the condition. In the early stages, additional monitoring and check-ups may be necessary. However, as the condition progresses, treatment may be required to prevent further vision loss.
Some common treatment options for diabetic retinopathy include:
- Laser treatment – This treatment shrinks blood vessels that are leaking or growing abnormally in the retina.
- Injections – Anti-VEGF injections can be given into the eye to help reduce the growth of abnormal blood vessels.
- Vitrectomy – This is a surgical procedure that removes the vitreous gel and any scar tissue that may be pulling on the retina.
Prevention and Management of Diabetic Retinopathy
The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to manage your diabetes effectively. This includes:
- Keeping your blood sugar levels under control
- Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
It is also important to have regular eye exams to detect any signs of diabetic retinopathy early. There are many eye clinics and hospitals that specialise in diabetic eye care, and it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience any changes in your vision.
Appointments for Diabetic Retinopathy in London
Miss Anna Grabowska is an experienced is an experienced substantive Consultant Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon at King’s College Hospital, London. She provides treatment and guidance for patients with diabetic retinopathy in London and you can book an appointment via this website.