Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes-induced eye diseases currently rank as the leading cause of vision loss and blindness. To counter the heightened risk for diabetic patients, healthcare professionals advocate annual dilated eye exams for those over 30 with diabetes, while those under 30 should undertake this exam five years after diagnosis.

Diabetic retinopathy arises from retinal damage, often linked to prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar in diabetes patients. This high glucose level impairs the retinal walls, rendering them prone to leakage. Accumulation of fluid in the retina or macula then results in vision loss.

Complicating matters, persistent high blood sugar levels can deplete retinal oxygen, fostering the growth of fragile, leak-prone new blood vessels termed neovascularization. As these vessels leak, blood infiltrates the eye, potentially leading to blindness.

Similar to diabetic retinopathy, diabetic retinal edema is a condition that occurs as a result of diabetes, where fluid accumulates in the retina due to damaged blood vessels. This accumulation of fluid can lead to swelling in the retinal tissue, causing the retina to thicken and distorting vision. If left untreated, diabetic retinal edema can severely impair central vision and may lead to permanent vision loss. Regular eye examinations and early intervention are crucial to managing this condition and preventing its potentially serious consequences.
Under managed care, diabetic patients without retinopathy are advised to visit their eye specialist annually. For those diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, visit frequency is determined following a thorough eye examination and consultation. If retinal damage is extensive, referral to a retinal specialist might be recommended. Regular comprehensive exams are crucial as diabetes can also trigger other eye issues like cataracts and glaucoma.