Diabetic Retinopathy & The Health Implications

Diabetic Retinopathy
Defect in either the secretion and or the action of insulin causes diabetes mellitus that is primarily characterized as hyperglycemia.  Insulin, a hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas, is required to regulate the blood glucose levels that are produced due to carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolisms. Based on the onset and the insulin action, diabetes mellitus presents as type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Though diabetes can be controlled, long term complications of the disease - nephropathyretinopathyneuropathy and atherosclerosis are common.
Health Problems Related to Diabetic Retinopathy

Eye disorders are common in diabetics and can range from mild to severe in nature. Diabetic retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma manifest as diabetic eye diseases in chronic diabetics of which diabetic retinopathy is the most common. Diabetic retinopathy is the damage to the retina caused by changes in the blood vessels and is a leading cause of blindness in diabetics.   In prolonged diabetes, the circulatory system of the retina is affected that causes blurring of vision, which if left untreated can cause complete loss of vision. The retinal changes are due to fragility of the retinal blood vessels that bleed; edema and abnormal growth of blood vessels over the retina.
Please note that:
1.In most developed countries, diabetic retinopathy is the primary cause for blindness among adults
2. Diabetic retinopathy is asymptomatic till advanced stages of the disease
3. Regular comprehensive eye care is the thumb rule for early diagnosis
4. Diabetic retinopathy can be effectively treated. Laser surgery is used to curb progression of symptoms
Epidemiology of Diabetic Retinopathy

A frequent cause of new cases causing blindness among adults in the age group of 20-64 years, diabeticretinopathy is chiefly pre-disposed by the duration of diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics with long history of diabetes are at risk of developing this vision threatening disease. Almost every patient with type 1 and 60% with type 2 may develop retinopathy after 20 years of diabetes. Apart from the duration of diabetes, poor diabetes and hypertension control can contribute to the onset and progression of the disease.  Diabeticretinopathy progresses from Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR) in varying degrees from mild, moderate and severe to Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR). The asymptomatic nature of disease onset causes a majority of diabetic patients to unwittingly progress rapidly towards severe vision loss. An early diagnosis, regular eye examinations and appropriate interventions are the key factors to avert vision impairment or blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy (a sequelae of diabetes) is known to cause vision impairment or complete blindness. Though treatment modalities are available the asymptomatic onset and sudden progression can catch the patient unawares and the best option to prevent the disease is regular and frequent eye examinations. However, even after onset, the disease can be blocked or its progression delayed by access to appropriate therapy.



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