Regular visits to the ophthalmologist can help catch retinopathy in its early stages when it can be treated and any damage to the eye can be reversed.

India ranks amongst the top ten countries in the world in terms of the number of diabetes cases! With the disease being so common and rampant, the degree of awareness is significantly high as well. However, not many people know that uncontrolled diabetes can result in permanent vision loss



Health complications related to Diabetes:


When you are diagnosed with diabetes, on the surface it implies that your blood sugar levels are extremely high, but the real implications are much more serious. If you do not regulate your blood sugar levels through regular medication and a proper diet plan you run the risk of several complications. Uncontrolled diabetes increases your risk for conditions such as:


  • Heart Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Nerve Damage
  • Retinopathy
  • Skin and Mouth infections
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Diabetes and Eyesight


Did you know that Diabetes is one of the main causes of vision loss or blindness in adults within the age group of 20 to 74? Unchecked diabetes and high blood sugar can lead to cataracts, blurry vision, glaucoma, and retinopathy.


  • Cataracts: The lenses in the eyes are responsible for capturing images and focussing them on to the retina. When the lens becomes murky or cloudy, your eyes cannot focus on any object properly. This condition is termed a Cataract. It is usually an age-related condition and is quite common among the elderly. However, being diabetic increases one’s risk for a cataract.
  • Blurry Vision: High blood sugar can cause the lens to swell. This can lead to change in refractive power causing blurry vision. Once blood sugar levels are regulated, proper vision can be restored. It may take as many as three months to return to normal, provided the individual keeps his diabetes under control.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: High blood sugar damages the small blood vessels in the retina. This causes vision to deteriorate. If left unchecked, the person can even go blind, however if detected early the vision is reversible. Vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy is irreversible. There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy:
    • Maculopathy: It affects the macular region of the retina which provides the best vision needed for activities such as reading, driving, etc. High blood sugar can cause this part to swell (macula edema). This swelling can be treated and reversed in some cases. In other, the damage is quite serious and permanent.
    • Proliferative Retinopathy: In this condition, the cells at the back of the eye get damaged due to poor oxygen supply. When new blood cells grow, they are fragile and can bleed, causing the retina to be separated from the back of the eye. This will lead to irreversible loss of vision.
  • Neovascular Glaucoma: When the diabetic retinopathy is left untreated it can result in high intraocular pressure due to bleeding and new vessel formation closing the drainage channel of the fluid in the eye.

Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy


Blurry vision is the first sign of possible macular edema and early-stage may be asymptomatic. As the disease progresses there are other signs to watch out for:


  • spots, dark shapes, and floaters in your vision
  • trouble seeing colours
  • black spots in your vision causing floaters.
  • vision loss

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment


Regular visits to the ophthalmologist can help catch retinopathy in its early stages when it can be treated and any damage to the eye can be reversed. Treatment begins before eyesight is affected and this prevents vision loss. Some ways to treat retinopathy are:


  • Laser Therapy to slow down the growth of new blood vessels that cause the retina to pull away from the eye.
  • Medicine can slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy.
  • Surgical intervention to either remove the vitreous entirely or partially or to reattach the retina to the eye.
  • Corticosteroid injections / Anti – VEGF injection.

Protect your eyes from Diabetic complications by


  • Visiting the ophthalmologist regularly.
  • Keeping your blood sugar under control.
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Giving up smoking.
  • Exercising regularly.

Dr. Geethalakshmi is a Endocrinologist in Chennai
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