Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that attacks the retina. It is contracted by people with diabetes and it can cause vision loss or blindness when left untreated. The condition can start out in the non-proliferative stage but it can progress into the more advanced and severe stage known as the proliferative type of retinopathy.
This condition usually does not exhibit symptoms not until your eyes have been severely damaged. Here are some retinopathy symptoms you should watch out for:
• Trouble with your night vision
• Blurred vision
• Shadows or missing parts of your vision
• Slow vision loss over time
• Bleeding of the eyes.
Diabetic Retinopathy in Children
While this condition is not common in children living in developed countries, studies show that children in poorer countries can actually suffer from this disease. For instance, one study revealed that 12% of Russian children who are diabetic also had diabetic retinopathy. In some cases, the eye condition can develop within a month from the time diabetes is detected. In most cases this is because of poor management.
Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy may be hereditary and brought about by genetic factors. They may be associated with history of hypertension in the family. They can also be stimulated by pubertal growth spurt.
If your child is 12 to 16 years old and he suffers from these conditions, you should immediately consult an adult optometrist who can conduct a screening program. In the alternative, you may also have your child checked by his diabetologist or by an expert ophthalmologist. This should be done at least once a year especially after your child hits 16 years old. While some doctors would recommend eye examinations every two years if your child is not yet suffering from diabetic retinopathy, it would be better to have the exams yearly to avoid serious complications.
Eye examinations are even more important if your child also experiences the following symptoms:
• High blood pressure
• Sickle trait (genetic blood disorder)
• Wildly fluctuating control of glucose levels.
Diabetic Retinopathy for 20s and Above
The Johns Hopkins University likewise released another alarming study. The research revealed that there is an increase of vision loss in Americans over 40 years old. For retinopathy, the statistics are even more alarming. There has been an 89% increase in diabetic retinopathy among Americans who are 40 years old and above.
The study also revealed that eight out ten persons who suffer from diabetes can become completely blind if the condition is left untreated. With around 16 million people in the United States suffering from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, it is thus, not surprising that retinopathy has now become the leading cause of blindness or vision loss in people who are 25 to 75 years old. Even though these studies relate to an American population, Australian demographics are equivalent.
Based on the foregoing, regularly eye check-ups should be conducted so that the eye condition will not worsen and progress. You can start by controlling the levels of your blood pressure and blood sugar. While treatments may not actually cure the retinopathy and while they cannot reverse the damage that already occurred, they can at least prevent further vision loss.
What is imperative though is regular eye examination using eye drops to dilate the pupils so that an effective view is obtained, combined with a 3D view of the retina using binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy and a technology called optical coherence tomography.
At The Eye Practice we routinely review diabetics for diabetic reinopathy, using the latest in eye care technology. Call us on (02) 9290 1899 or Book an Appointment online for your comprehensive diabetic eye examination.