The Silent Thief – Diabetic Retinopathy and Vision Loss

As diabetes cases rise, the risk of diabetic retinopathy grows, making awareness and taking medical measures crucial for protecting vision and preventing blindness. Diabetes is a serious health condition that can lead to total blindness and other complications if not managed properly.

One of the most common complications is DIABETIC RETINOPATHY, which can damage your vision if preventive measures are not taken immediately. Don’t panic as with the right knowledge and care, you can prevent or delay vision loss. In this article, we will explain what diabetic retinopathy is, how it affects your eyes, and what you can do to protect your vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) is a complication of diabetes that affects the blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye causing them to become weak, leaky, or blocked. This can lead to vision loss or even blindness.
It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide not just in Ghana. Diabetic Retinopathy also known as “diabetic eye disease “ affects 80 percent of those who had/has stage 1 and 2 diabetes for years, that is 20 years and above.

Diabetic Retinopathy or diabetic eye disease are classified into four stages, each with increasing severity and potential vision loss. These stages are; Mild nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy. This is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy. It is characterized by tiny swellings or bulges in the blood vessels of the retina. These areas of swelling are known as microaneurysms (MA) which can only be detected by medical doctors.

That’s why it’s essential to have a regular eye checkup because people with undetected diabetic retinopathy are at risk of vision loss over time. Next is Moderate nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, At this stage, tiny blood vessels in the retina start to swell. This blocks blood flow to the retina and prevents it from receiving proper nourishment.

Additionally, it is Severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, At this stage, blockage of a larger number of blood vessels in the retina occurs. This causes a significant decrease in blood flow to the area. The lack of blood flow triggers a signal to the body to start growing new blood vessels in the retina.

Then finally, we have Proliferative diabetic retinopathy, At this advanced stage, new blood vessels continue to grow in the retina which are extremely thin and fragile. These blood vessels cause scar tissue to form inside the eye. This scar tissue can pull the retina away from the back of the eye, causing retinal detachment. A detached retina typically results in permanent blindness.

It’s essential to note that vision loss can occur at any stage, and prompt treatment is very important to prevent or delay progression. People with Diabetic retinopathy start to experience Blurry vision , Double vision , Floaters (dark spots or cobwebs) , Distorted vision (straight lines appear wavy) and Blind spots or missing areas of vision.

By managing your blood sugar levels and getting regular eye exams are vital for early detection and management. And should in case you do develop this condition, know that advanced treatments like laser surgery, VEGF( Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor )injections, and vitrectomy are available to help restore your vision.

In conclusion, People with diabetes can safeguard their vision and quality of life by understanding diabetic retinopathy and taking preventive steps. Also, Early detection and timely treatment are essential to prevent vision loss, so it’s crucial not to delay when signs are being noticed.

Fortunately, advances in treatment and management offer hope for individuals with diabetic retinopathy to maintain their vision and live a full life.
Peterlyn Mensah16:14

Editor’s note: Views expressed in this article do not represent that of The Chronicle


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here