Diabetic Retinopathy

Effect of Diabetes on the eye:

Diabetes can affect the eye in a number of ways. Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication in which the small blood vessels of the retina (nerve layer) are damaged. This is one of the main reasons why people go blind in developed countries like Singapore. Diabetic retinopathy is more likely to happen the longer someone has diabetes. People who have had diabetes for more than 10 years have a high chance of developing abnormal blood vessels and retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy:

1 / Non-proliferative Retinopathy

Also known as background retinopathy, this is the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. At this point, there are small spots of blood, small changes in the blood vessels (called microaneurysms), and leakage of proteins and fat (exudates). In the early stages, you may not notice any changes in your vision.

2 / Proliferative Retinopathy

As the retinopathy gets worse, new abnormal blood vessels may grow on the surface of the retina or the optic nerve. This is called neovascularisation. These abnormal blood vessels can break and bleed into the eye, which can cause sudden blindness. There may also be scarring and fibrosis, which can pull on the retina and cause retinal detachment and loss of vision.

3 / Diabetic maculopathy

When blood vessels in the macula enlarge to make up for the ones that are blocked, they may start to leak into the retina. The leakage may cause swelling in the retina, affecting vision.

Eye examination

People with diabetes should get their eyes checked often. The eye doctor will do a thorough check, which will include dilating the pupils so that the retina can be looked at. Sometimes, Fundus Flourescein Angiography or FFA (using a yellow dye and taking pictures as it passes through the retina) is performed to see how severe the disease is and how far it has spread.

Determine the Best possible Treatment With Early Diabetic Eye Screening

Most people, including diabetics, do not know that diabetes can affect the eyes. Most with diabetic eye disease are unaware they have it and do not get treatment for it. Screening for diabetic eye disease is a great way to spot it early so that treatment can start timely.