What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?
By Dr. Gabriel Dery, MD
It is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina). At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, however, diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness. Diabetic retinopathy can develop in anyone who has type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.
In my experience as a practitioner, I have seen so many patients, being diabetic without knowing it. Only after having their pupils dilated was I able to diagnose diabetes retinopathy, where at the beginning of the disease only some peripheral blood vessels were damaged, and as the disease progresses the more central blood vessels get damaged causing non reversible permanent loss of vision. Advanced stage of the disease will attack the central blood vessels causing permanent blindness
Advanced stage. Patient may have lost 80 to 90% of the vision
During all my years as a practitioner, I have heard people telling me “Thank god I do not wear glasses; therefore I do not need to see you”
And there is the biggest mistake that people do, because they do not have any visual problems, they do not have a yearly eye examination. Same analogy goes for the dentist, “I do not have any teeth problems, and therefore I do not consult a dentist”
HOW TO AVOID DIABETES RETINOPATHY?
Annual comprehensive visual analysis starting as young as teenagers.
Annual physical examination by a general practitioner.
Find out about family history of diabetes.
Have a fungus photography as a reference to be compared on a yearly basis.
Diabetic retinopathy, diagnosed at the first stage, can be treated.
(Ed. Note: Dr. Gabriel Dery has retired from private practice and lives now in Ajijic, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Left photo, patient has already lost vision
Right photo, even though there is a big hemorrhage, the vision is still good, because the central (macula) is still intact
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