Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that damages your retina when you have long-term diabetes. Your retina is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the inner surface of your eye.
Diabetic retinopathy and other retinal changes due to diabetes are caused by occurrences at the microvascular level of your retina which can include the following:
• Closure of the capillaries that results in hypoxia and micro-infarcts
• Destruction of capillary walls
• Dilation of capillaries.
When the diabetic retinopathy is found in and around your macula, it is classified as diabetic maculopathy. The macula is the oval-shaped yellow spot near the center of your retina. It is responsible for giving you central vision. Some people classify diabetic maculopathy as a condition that results from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic maculopathy occurs when the macula is damaged. The damage may be due to several factors such as diabetic macular odema wherein the blood vessels near the macula leak protein or fluid onto the macula. When the leakage causes the retina to harden and the deposits of fat from the blood become significantly large and close to the fovea, it is classified as Clinically Significant Macular Odema.
Symptoms of Diabetic Maculopathy
Here are some symptoms you may exhibit when you suffer from this type or complication of diabetic retinopathy:
• Blurred central vision
• Trouble in recognizing faces especially when using your central vision
• Difficulty reading.
Treatments for Diabetic Maculopathy
This type or complication of diabetic retinopathy can be treated by any of the following means:
• Self-healing. If you are suffering from a mild case of diabetic maculopathy, your condition may resolve itself without needing any treatment.
• Laser Photocoagulation Treatment or Laser Eye Surgery. When you undergo this procedure, a laser will be fired at the area of the leakage. This is done to seal the leakage and to prevent it from worsening. While this procedure will burn your retina, you do not have to worry because the burning will be in small quantities that your eye can recover from. You may experience some pain and you may notice that your vision worsens immediately after the surgery is performed. However, a few weeks after the surgery, you should notice improvement in your vision.
• Anti-vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Drug Injection. These anti-VEGF drugs can include Avastin or Lucentis.
• Intravitreal Steroid Injection. While this type of treatment can relieve your symptoms of diabetic maculopathy. Side effects include increase of intraocular pressure and cataract.
Prevention of Diabetic Maculopathy
Here are some tips you can follow to prevent the development of diabetic maculopathy:
• Take good care of your eyes. You can do this by practicing proper eye hygiene.
• Monitor your blood pressure level.
• Monitor your cholesterol level.
• Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
• Monitor your blood sugar level. Initially, a sudden and rapid improvement in your blood sugar level may worsen your diabetic retinopathy. But over time, this can clear.
• Once glucose levels have been brought under control continual strict management will give you every opportunity to not allow any vision degradation.
It is really important to have regular eye exams. Subtle diabetic maculopathy can be revealed by having regular eye scans called optical coherence tomography or OCT.
This great technology is available at The Eye Practice. Book ONLINE or phone on (02) 9290 1899.