Diabetic Retinopathy: Can diabetes cause blindness?
For diabetic patients, the thought of losing their eyesight is scary!
Diabetes-related retinal damage, known as diabetic retinopathy, is the leading cause of blindness. People with diabetes are 40% more likely to get glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts.
Diabetes and Vision: Let's understand the link!
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can harm the retina of the eye, leading to diabetic retinopathy. It is often more common in those who have had diabetes for a long time. Diabetic retinopathy grows with age and, if untreated, can result in vision loss or blindness. Diabetes retinopathy is frequently preventable by lifestyle changes to control blood sugar levels, such as weight loss, dietary changes, physical activity, and regular eye screenings.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetes-related retinopathy is a diabetes complication that affects the eyes. This condition weakens the blood vessels which are in the back of the eyes (retina).
Will I get blind if I have diabetes?
Yes! There is the possibility of getting blind if one is suffering from diabetes.
Diabetes can damage the eyes, causing vision loss. The good news is that managing diabetes and receiving regular eye exams can help prevent and treat vision problems. Diabetic retinopathy may often cause no symptoms or just minor vision issues. However, it has the possibility of causing blindness.
Know the eyesight problems that are associated with diabetes:
Blurred vision : If blood sugar levels fluctuate fast, it can impact the shape of the eye's lens, resulting in blurred vision. The person's vision returns to normal after the blood sugar stabilizes.
Diabetics are 60% more likely to develop a cataract. It is a condition in which the lens of the eye is clouded by debris. Focusing on objects becomes more difficult, and anti-glare or special eyeglasses may be recommended to help with the issue.Cataract with diabetes is called snowflake cataract.
The risk of glaucoma increases with age and the duration of diabetes. The optic nerves of the eye, which are the bundles of nerve fibers that connect the eye to our brain, have been severely injured. This happens when pressure builds up inside the eyes, and aqueous humor drainage is slowed.
Neovascular glaucoma: Diabetic retinopathy can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow out of the retina and block fluid from draining out of the eye. This causes a type of glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness).Treatment options include photocoagulation. Bevacizumab injections etc.
This condition is caused by damage to tiny blood vessels in the retina. If the blood sugar level is not controlled, it usually starts with patches of darkness in vision and can develop to complete blindness.Treatment options include photocoagulation. Bevacizumab injections etc.
Diabetic macular edema (DME)
The macula is the portion of the light-sensitive retina that regulates our most detailed vision. Leaking blood vessels in the retina creates fluid accumulation in the macula, resulting in severe vision distortion.
In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, people may not notice any symptoms. As the condition worsens, they may experience the following:
- Blurred vision
- Vision loss
- Spots or dark strings floating in the vision (floaters)
- Night blindness
- Color blindness or seeing colors as faded
What causes diabetes-related retinopathy?
Diabetes can cause cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetes-related retinopathy, which is defined as damage to the retinal vessels of the eye. If not treated, these damaged vessels can cause poor blood flow (ischemia), inflammation, and ultimately legal blindness.
Can diabetic retinopathy be reversed? Or Is diabetic retinopathy curable?
Diabetic retinopathy usually causes permanent damage. Although this condition is not completely curable, several treatments may help bring back some of the vision. While treatments are unlikely to restore eyesight, the eye doctor can help prevent it from worsening.
By taking these essential steps, people with diabetes can lower their risk of diabetic retinopathy or prevent it from worsening:
A nutritious diet and physical activity are recommended. Diabetes patients should exercise or walk for at least 150 minutes per week. They must also take oral diabetes medications or insulin as advised by their doctor and not miss any doses.
Monitoring the blood sugar level
Diabetes patients must regularly monitor and report their blood sugar levels. This will help in the implementation of plans to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels.
Testing for HbA1c level
The HbA1c test is used to measure the average blood sugar levels over the past three months. The HbA1c level should be kept under 7%.
Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure under control
A balanced healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight all help to keep these levels in check. However, the medicine may be required at times.
Smoking may raise the risk of acquiring diabetes-related problems. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetic retinopathy.
Being mindful of vision changes
Any changes in vision, such as floaters, dark spots, or impaired vision, should be evaluated by an eye specialist.
Diabetic retinopathy can affect either type 1 or type 2 diabetes patients, usually affecting both eyes. The condition progresses slowly over time and may not exhibit any warning symptoms. As a result, patients with diabetes should have regular eye exams to diagnose the condition early and prevent complications. Vision loss is usually prevented if the problem is diagnosed and treated quickly.
Are you suffering from diabetes?
Consult our expert endocrinologist or a diabetologist for diabetes-related retinopathy treatment.
NOTE: Diabetes does not always result in eyesight loss. Diabetes control can help you to avoid complications.