30.03.2012

The very real threat of diabetic retinopathy

The very real threat of diabetic retinopathy

By Alexa Kaczka

Many people who suffer from diabetes have to contend with many trials and tribulations on a daily basis, but there are also many hidden dangers of the condition that some are unaware if – one of which is the eye condition diabetic retinopathy.

Overall, four in every ten diabetics will experience diabetic retinopathy at some point, and for many it significantly affects their quality of life as their vision is being taken away, but this does not have to be the case, one expert has noted.

Health educator Pam Maxson told Dansville Online that, as diabetes has a major effect on the blood vessels and often causes irreparable damage, it is a particular danger to the retina as the tissue lines the inside of the eyeball requires many small blood vessels to function.

She explained that when a person first begins to develop diabetic retinopathy, swelling occurs in these blood vessels that eventually blocks them and leads to newer, but less powerful, blood vessels forming, which eventually cause blindness.

On occasion, fluid from these vessels can leak into the macula and cause it to swell, which leads to macular edema and harms vision even more.

However, diabetics can avoid these problems altogether by regularly visiting an eye specialist, who will be able to identify the problems before they can worsen.

As Ms Maxson explains: "But diabetic retinopathy is a slow process, and sometimes doesn't make its presence known until much damage has been done. Diabetes is a sneaky disease with sneaky complications."

Prevention is always far better than the cure, and in this case that means diabetics having eyes checked on regular occasions – even more frequently than the two-yearly visits most experts recommend, to ensure that any problems can be nipped in the bud before major damage is able to occur.

by Adrian Galbreth


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