Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the light-sensitive layer in the back of the eye called retina. The retina takes pictures and transmits them to the brain to process. High level of blood sugar can, over time, damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina and lead to permanent loss of vision. At Sushila Diabetes Care, Diabetes Specialist Nurses screen for diabetic retinopathy by using a retina camera. Photographs are captured in the clinic and analyzed by an eye care specialist for signs of retinal damage.
Symptoms of Retinopathy
Most people do not experience any noticeable symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As it worsens people may experience the following :
- Flashing lights, an indication of retinal detachment
- A veil, cloud, or streaks of red in the field of vision, or dark or floating spots in one or both eyes, which can indicate bleeding
- Decreased depth perception, in combination with decreased visual acuity ( clarity of vision ), can make it difficult to see curbs and steps, or walk to the diabetes clinic.
- Eye pain
- Dark spots in vision
- Dark tiny strings floating in vision
- Difficulty perceiving colors & Vision loss
Four Stages of Retinopathy
- Mild Non – Proliferative Retinopathy: At this early stage, small areas of balloon-like swelling occur in the retina’s tiny blood vessels.
- Proliferative Retinopathy: At this advanced stage, new blood vessels that grow in the retina is a transparent gel that fills the interior of the eye. Because these new blood vessels are abnormal, they can rupture and bleed, causing hemorrhages in the retina.
- Moderate Non – Proliferative Retinopathy: As the disease progresses, some blood vessels that nourish the retina become blocked.
- Severe Non – Proliferative Retinopathy: Many more blood vessels become blocked, which disrupts the blood supply that nourishes the retina. The damaged retina then signals the body to produce new blood vessels.
In addition, fluid can leak in the center of the retina and can cause swelling, which can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy, although it is more likely to occur as the disease progresses.