Diabetes mellitus can cause several eye problems, such as cataract, glaucoma and ocular nerve palsies. The most common and vision-threatening eye complication is diabetic retinopathy. The high blood sugar level damage small blood vessels in the retina, causing leakage of fluid and hemorrhages. The retinal vessels get occluded and new abnormal vessels grow in order to repair the ischemia. But these new vessels are weaker and cause several serious problems, like massive bleeding in the eye and retinal detachment. This can lead to severe and often even permanent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the working age population. 74% of diabetic patients don’t even know that they have any problems with their eyes because there were no symptoms in the early stages.
Although there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, there are treatments available that can prevent progression of the disease and so permanent vision loss can be significantly reduced. Therefore, the retinopathy has to be diagnosed early and treated in time. Often when the patients do not present any symptoms, a treatment becomes necessary.
Precautions are possible, as complications and deterioration of diabetic eye disease are dependent on the general health of the patient. Maintaining a stable blood sugar level, well-controlled blood pressure and normal cholesterol levels along with healthy eating, an active lifestyle, avoiding smoking and overweight can all contribute to preventing retinopathy or slow down the progression.
In addition, patients with diabetes need to have a comprehensive eye exam, including dilated examination of the retina, every year, even if they have no symptoms at all.
Early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of blindness dramatically.
Dr. Tina Eckert, Consultant Ophthalmologist - HealthBay Al Wasl (Day Surgery Center LLC)
Address: HealthBay Polyclinic, Al Wasl Road, Dubai
Telephone No: 800 HBPC (4272)