World Health Day 2016: raising awareness about the rise of #Diabetes, its effects and health consequences.

 

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With yesterday being World Health Day, Hunter Laser Vision are taking a look at how #Diabetes may be affecting your visual health.

 

Did you know that individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts at a younger age? Or that they are 50% more likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics?

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and low vision in industrialized nations for adults between the ages 20-65. 

Retinopathy refers to the damage of the retina.

The retina is the thin, light sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of our eyes that converts incoming light into visual images.

Diabetic retinopathy is the damage to the small blood vessels that nourish tissue and nerve cells in the retina and is also regarded as a microvascular complication.

 

There are three types of Retinopathy in Diabetes:

  1. Background Retinopathy: Sometimes the blood vessel damage exists, but there is no vision problem. At this stage it is important to carefully manage your diabetes to prevent background retinopathy from progressing any further
  2. Maculopathy: Refers do damage within the macula, the part of your eye that provides you with your central vision. This damage often takes place in the form of diabetic macular oedema in which fluid builds up within the macula. Maculopathy is usually treated with laser surgery however if left untreated it can significantly affect your vision.
  3. Proliferative Retinopathy: New blood vessels start to grow (or proliferate) in the back of the eye. Because these new blood vessels are abnormal, they can rupture and bleed, causing haemorrhages within the retina. This may result in the development of scar tissue that can tug at the retina causing further damage or in more serious cases retinal detachment.

 

The duration of diabetes is the determining factor in the risk of developing retinopathy. Basically, the longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk of this very serious eye disease. If diabetic retinopathy is not treated early, it can lead to permanent blindness.

 

Symptoms
The early stages of the disease usually has no symptoms, more often than not it goes unnoticed until your vision begins to be effected. However there are some notable symptoms including:

  • “Floating” spots caused by bleeding from abnormal blood vessels
  • Blurred or double-vision
  • Flashing lights- a sign of retinal detachment
  • Blind or blank shots in the field of vision

 

I have diabetes. How can I reduce the risk of Diabetic Retinopathy?

  • No Smoking! Smoking can worsen blocked vessels behind the eye
  •  Intensive control of blood sugar levels will reduce your risks of developing retinopathy. A large study of people with type 1 diabetes found that people with diabetes who achieved tight control of their blood sugars were 50%-75% less likely to develop retinopathy.
  •  People with type 2 diabetes usually exhibit symptoms of eye problems when diabetes is diagnosed. In this case, control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels play an important role in slowing the progression of new vessels forming behind the retina

 

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy may involve laser procedures or surgery. To prevent retinopathy with diabetes, have your eye doctor screen your eyes annually.

 

References

Diabetic retinopathy. (2016). Better Health Channel. Retrieved 1 April 2016, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetic-retinopathy

 

Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease. (2016). National Eye Institute. Retrieved 1 April 2016, from https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy

 

World Health Day 2016: Beat diabetes. (2016). World Health Organization. Retrieved 1 April 2016, from http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2016/event/en/