Diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema

 

Diabetes affects several organs of the body, like kidneys, heart, nervous system, and most importantly, the eyes. Patients having diabetes are at risk of several eye problems, some of which can cause vision loss. The most serious diabetic eye problem is diabetic retinopathy. This results from damage to the blood vessels of the back part of the eye (called the retina). These small vessels can become leaky and can shut down, too. There can also be growth of abnormal weak blood vessels, which frequently rupture to cause bleeding or hemorrhage inside the eye (called Vitreous Hemorrhage). Leakage from retinal blood vessels in the central part of the retina (called Macula) leads to swelling or macular edema. This can cause decreased vision and distortion in vision. Diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema is done during dilated eye fundus examination, preferably carried out by a trained retina specialist. Retina specialists also perform fluorescein angiography and OCT scanning of the macula in some cases to characterize and document diabetic eye disease. Treatment of diabetic retinopathy early on is simple and can save vision. It is therefore necessary that diabetic patients get regular screening done by a retina specialist (every 6-12 months). Laser treatment, intravitreal injections, and sometimes surgery are required to halt and correct the damage from diabetic retinopathy. With timely treatment, vision can be preserved or improved in a majority of patients.

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