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Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetes is a disease that has effects on multiple parts of the body. A complication of diabetes that affect the eyes is known as diabetic retinopathy. This is caused when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can swell and leak or they can close and stop blood from passing through. Sometimes abnormal blood vessels can grow on the retina. 

There are two main stages of diabetic eye diseases. 

First Stage: NPDR (non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy) 

  • This is the early stage of diabetic eye disease. Many people with diabetes have it
  • With NPDR, tiny blood vessels leak, causing the retina to swell. 
  • When the macula swells it is called macular edema.
  • NPDR can also cause blood vessels in the retina to close off. 
  • When this occurs its called macular ischemia.

 Second Stage: PDR ( proliferative diabetic retinopathy) 

  • PDR is the more advanced stage of diabetic eye disease, 
  • It happens when the retina starts growing new blood vessels, this is called neovascularization.
  • These fragile new vessels often bleed into the vitreous.
  • If they bleed only a little you might notice a few dark floaters. 
  • If they bleed a lot it might block all vision.
  • The new blood vessels can form scar tissue, which can cause problems with the macula or lead to a detached retina.

The complications of diabetic retinopathy are best treated if caught early. Regular follow-ups are very important.

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