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Diabetic Retinopathy

Retinopati (Latin name)

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

In time, diabetes leads to changes in different organs in the body. In the eye diabetic retinopathy appears as small swellings on the retina (macular edema), small bleedings in the retina, formation of new fragile blood vessels or other indications that the retina suffers from lack of oxygen.

As the number of diabetics increases the occurrence of diabetic retinopathy also increases. There is a clear connection between good sugar regulation and development of the retinopathy. A lot of diabetics are also treated for raised blood pressure and elevated levels of cholesterol (the fat in the blood). This treatment is also important for preventing diabetic changes in the retina.

There are two different types of diabetes. Type 1 must always be treated with insulin and most often has its debut among children and young people. Type 2 is more frequent among older people and is regarded a lifestyle disease. Type 2 diabetes is treatable with diet, weight loss, tablets and possibly insulin.

If you have diabetes as a child, the retinopathy does not arise until after puberty. If you are diagnosed as an adult, you may have had the illness through a longer period of time without knowing. Therefore, it is important to have your eyes examines when beginning treatment for diabetes.

Examinations of the eyes are performed by an ophthalmologist and should occur with regular intervals, determined by the ophthalmologist. The visual power and the depth of the retina is measured and the retina is photographed. In that way, it is easier for the ophthalmologist to evaluate whether the retinopathy is stable between examinations.

Besides from a good control of diabetes and blood pressure, diabetic retinopathy is treatable with laser. Diabetics should attend regular control of the eyes for the rest of his or her life. So, once diabetic, always diabetic, no matter the regulation and medication.

Further reading on Frequent signs.

What can you do?

If you have diabetes, you must follow your diet and treatment as ordered by the doctor. There is a clear connection between stable low long-term blood glucose (glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c) and the prevention of diabetic retinopathy.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

The doctor treats and guides concerning the treatment of diabetes. The treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes, often takes place on a diabetes clinic or hospitals.

Contact the doctor immediately

The ophthalmologist performs regular controls for changes in the diabetes and implements treatment with laser, if necessary. Moreover, the ophthalmologist can perform a treatment with injection of growth inhibitory medication directly into the eye. However, this treatment is only performed on authorised clinics.