Diabetic Retinopathy – Causes, Symptoms and Preventable Measures

Abstract

We all are familiar with diabetes as it is a common disease affecting a large portion of the population worldwide. Basically sugar levels are increased in this disease which further give rise to various disorders in the body including heart disease, hearing loss, depression and many others from which Diabetic Retinopathy is one in which eyes are affected along with the increased level of sugar in the body. In this article, we are going to study about the Diabetic Retinopathy, its various aspects and effects on body health.

Introduction

Diabetic Retinopathy can be defined as a complication of diabetes causing disorders of the retina of the eye. This is caused due to deterioration of the blood vessels of the light sensitive tissues present at the retina or back side of the eye. The retinal blood vessels swell, start leaking or become unable to pass blood containing nutrients, oxygen to the retina. All these changes can cause loss of vision if proper treatment is not taken.

Symptoms

Usually there are no symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy at the initial stage as patients have only mild problems in vision. With the progression of the disease, patients experience following signs and symptoms:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Imbalanced color vision
  3. Fluctuating vision
  4. Spots in vision
  5. Vision loss
  6. Empty or dark areas in vision

Causes

Major cause of Diabetic Retinopathy is too much use of sugar in food for a long time. Excess sugar use can lead to blockage in blood vessels that provide nourishment to the retina, thereby supply of nutrients and oxygen cuts down to the retina. So, the body itself begins to develop new blood vessels for the retina but these new blood vessels are not much enough and can leak easily.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Retinopathy is of Two Types, Each of Which Has Different Causes.

The Types of Diabetic Retinopathy and Their Causes are

1. Early Diabetic Retinopathy is a common type of Diabetic Retinopathy and also called as Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NDPR) which means new blood vessels are not developing for carrying nourishment towards the retina. In this condition, the surrounding walls of blood vessels of the retina become weaker. Tiny bulges begin to stick out in the walls of smaller blood vessels due to which leakage of fluid occurs sometimes on the retina. On the other hand, larger blood vessels of the retina become abnormal in shape or diameter and start to dilate. This type of Diabetic Retinopathy can develop from mild to severe gradually with increase in blockage of blood vessels.

2. Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy is the severe type of Diabetic Retinopathy and also known as proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy can be developed into this type in which damaged blood vessels get blocked and raise the growth of new, abnormal retinal blood vessels which can leak into jelly like substance filling the eye center (vitreous)

The growth of new blood vessels can cause stimulation of scar tissues which can cause the retina to cut down from the back side of the eye. Eyeballs may get pressurized if the new formed blood vessels disturbs the normal fluid flow out of the eye. This process can lead to the deterioration of the optic nerve, a nerve carrying images from eye to brain and results in an eye disorder, Glaucoma.

Risk Factors

Diabetic patients can get easily affected by Diabetic Retinopathy and there are some other factors also increasing the risk of Diabetic Retinopathy, which are:

  1. Hypertension
  2. High levels of cholesterol
  3. Uncontrolled blood sugar
  4. Diabetes duration- increased duration of diabetes increases the risk of Diabetic Retinopathy
  5. Tobacco consumption
  6. Pregnancy
  7. Being Native American, Hispanic or African-American

Complications

Serious problems of vision can be developed in the patients of Diabetic Retinopathy due to abnormal growth of retinal vessels. Several complications are:

1. Blindness

Complete vision loss or blindness can occur in the condition of Diabetic Retinopathy if no proper treatment is taken by the patient for a long time.

2. Glaucoma

Interference with normal flow of fluid going out of the eye can be done by the growth of new blood vessels at the front part of the eye. This interference can lead to Glaucoma in which there is increased pressure can be observed in the eye and this pressure can spoil the optic nerve which passes image from the eye to the brain.

3. Retinal Detachment

The scar tissues raised by the abnormal blood vessels can cut the link of the retina with the back of the eye. This condition can further cause floating vision, severe vision loss or flashes in vision.

4. Vitreous Hemorrhage

The center of the eye can get filled with a clear, jelly like substance leaked from the new formed blood vessels. If the bleeding amount is small, then the patient may observe a few dark spots or floaters in his vision. On the other hand, if the bleeding is severe, blood can get filled in the whole vitreous cavity and cause temporary blindness.

Diagnosis

Comprehensive dilated eye exam will be performed by a doctor to diagnose Diabetic Retinopathy. In this, the doctor placed drops in eyes to make your pupils dilate and for better understanding. During the exam, the doctors also look for:

  1. Irregular blood vessels
  2. Retinal detachment
  3. Swelling in the retina
  4. Development of new blood vessels in the retina
  5. Abnormalities in optic nerve
  6. Bleeding in the center of the eye (vitreous)

Doctors can also measure pressure on the eye for glaucoma, may test your vision and may look for cataracts.

Preventable Measures

Diabetic Retinopathy Can be Prevented by Following Given Steps

1. Consume Healthy Food

Make a habit of including only healthy foods in your daily diet. Eating healthy will help you in maintaining normal blood sugar and improving overall health.

2. Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are very effective in maintaining normal blood sugar level and enhancing overall body health. Examples of some herbal remedies are apple cider vinegar, chromium, zinc, fiber and barley, aloevera, berberine, fenugreek, cinnamon, gymnema, and nopal.

3. Regular Checkup of Sugar

Perform a test of sugar level at a particular interval of time, after 12 hours or 24 hours or several times in a day if you are sick or underlying heavy stress conditions. Maintain a record of your sugar reports so that doctors can easily treat you.

4. Maintain Normal Cholesterol and Blood Pressure Level

Always try to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control as it will help you in preventing Diabetic Retinopathy and various other body disorders.

5. Ouit Smoking

Quit the habit of smoking as soon as possible because it increases the chances of many Diabetic complications from which Diabetic Retinopathy is one.

6. Be Alert Towards Vision Changes

If you notice any change in your vision or it becomes hazy, spotty, or blurry, immediately contact an eye doctor.

7. Regular Exercise

Being physically active will maintain distance between you and numerous diseases. Make sure to do exercise daily for at least 40 minutes in which you can do running, jogging, walking, cycling, swimming, gym or any physical activity which can make you sweat.

8. Get Proper Sleep

Help your body cells and tissue to heal them by taking a good quality sleep for seven to eight hours. Good sleep will support you in maintaining normal sugar levels and preventing various diseases.

Conclusion

In this article, we read about Diabetic Retinopathy and its causes, symptoms and other information related to this. By following the above given steps, one can easily get rid of Diabetic Retinopathy and live a disease free life.

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Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurveda) is an expert ayurvedic doctor based in Chandigarh, India and doing his practice in Mohali, India. He is spreading the knowledge of Ayurveda - Ancient healing treatment, not only in India but also abroad. He is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda Products, Planet Ayurveda Clinic and Krishna Herbal Company. Read More

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