Diabetic Retinopathy-mediangels.com




Diabetic Retinopathy is one of the most common diabetic eye diseases, which is currently the leading cause of blindness in most adults in the western hemisphere. The condition is brought about by changes in the blood vessels in the retina. In a majority of the reported cases, the blood vessels may swell and start to leak fluids. In other cases, there may be an abnormal growth of new blood vessels on the surface of the retina (the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) which may bring about an unhealthy retina, causing poor vision. Patients suffering from diabetic retinopathy will at first notice changes in their vision. However, the condition will get worse in the course of time and lead to loss of vision. The condition usually affects both eyes.


The disease has four main stages:
  • Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy - This is the earliest stage where microaneurysms occur. Microaneurysm is a sac-like enlargement occurring on the venous end of the retinal capillary that is normally associated with diabetes.
  • Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy – This is the second stage of the disease where a number of blood vessels that are responsible for nourishing the retina are blocked.
  • Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy – Blockage of the blood vessels continues and this deprives many areas of the retina with the much needed blood supply. Signals are then sent to the body for new vessels to be grown for the purpose of nourishment.
  • Proliferative Retinopathy – Signals sent to the body by the retina for nourishment bring in the growth of new blood vessels. This is known as “Proliferative Retinopathy”. The new vessels are abnormal and quite fragile and are aligned along the retina and the vitreous humor inside the eye. The vessels have very thin walls which occasionally leak blood and therefore cause vision loss and eventual blindness.


In a majority of cases, the disease has no symptoms at all. However, when the condition gets severe, especially in the last two stages, the symptoms start to manifest, including:
  • Blurry vision and eventual loss of sight over time
  • Shadows and other areas of a person’s vision that are missing
  • Problems with night vision
  • Floaters and flashes
  • The person also experiences the appearance of fine lines when looking straight at a blank object or an empty space.
  • Dark spots also appear where a person cannot see and are accompanied by periodic blindness in some areas of the eye.
  • Sensitivity when switching from a light-filled to a darker room without experiencing problems with vision


Treatment will only reduce the deterioration process and not reverse the damage already done. Keep the blood sugar levels under tight control, as well as the blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Smokers should quite the vice. Early stages of the condition may only be monitored by an optician trained to hand retinopathy cases. Severe cases of diabetic retinopathy may require surgery and drugs as prescribed by an expert.


American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes--2011. Diabetes Care.

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