Diabetic retinopathy is a common eye disease that damages the retina. It affects a large number of persons who suffer from diabetes mellitus. While this condition can result in vision loss, this can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment.
It is essential to know the different stages of diabetic retinopathy listed below so you can identify the condition you are suffering and address it properly.
• This is the earliest stage of diabetic retinopathy.
• One symptom would be the presence of blot and dot hemorrhages in the retina.
• This may also be characterized by microaneurysms or areas of balloon-like swelling of the weakened small blood vessels in your retina.
• It is also possible not to exhibit symptoms while experiencing this stage.
• Treatment may not be required unless it worsens into the next stage or it is accompanied by diabetic macular edema.
• Your doctor needs to monitor your condition to prevent it from proceeding to the next level.
• In this second stage of diabetic retinopathy, some of the tiny blood vessels in your retina may become blocked.
• Due to the blocked blood vessels, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to some areas of the retina may be decreased.
• This can be detected with the help of a fluorescein angiogram. Drops will be placed in your eyes to help dilate the pupils. Sodium fluoroscein, a fluorescent dye, will be injected in a vein in your arm. After around 15 seconds, the dye will travel through the blood vessels of your retina. A specialized retinal camera will be used to take photographs of your retina to study the blood circulation through the blood vessels. The pictures will help your doctor see any blockages in your retinal blood vessels.
• This third stage of diabetic retinopathy is characterized by blockage in several tiny blood vessels in your retina.
• Similar to the second stage, this results in the deprivation of oxygen and nourishment in some parts of your retina. This causes the development of a condition called retinal ischemia.
• When you develop retinal ischemia, the affected parts of your retina will send signals to your body to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels which are necessary to replenish the supply of oxygen.
• This is the most severe stage of diabetic retinopathy.
• The body responds to the signals sent by the retina in the third stage of this condition by growing new blood vessels. Unfortunately, the blood vessels are abnormal. This process is called retinal neovascularization.
• The abnormal blood vessels produced through neovascularization are too fragile and they can break easily. Thus, instead of replenishing and increasing the supply of nutrients and oxygen in your retina, the blood vessels hemorrhage into your vitreous.
• The bleeding can result into retinal detachment and severe vision loss.
• This stage of diabetic retinopathy may be treated through retinal laser photocoagulation.
• Apart from retinal laser photocoagulation, vitrectomy may be performed. This is a surgical procedure that removes vitreous that are filled with blood or scar tissue.
Please note that Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in an age bracket under 50. Most of these cases are preventable with careful monitoring and properly times treatment.
If you have diabetes it is recommended that you have a yearly eye exam assuming things are “under control”.
Call us on (02) 9290 1899 for your diabetic eye assessment or BOOK an APPOINTMENT ONLINE.