Early detection of diabetic retinopathy prevents complications in 80% of cases

Diabetic retinopathy is an ocular complication of diabetes mellitus that affects the retina of patients suffering from this disease, causing the blood vessels that supply blood to the retina to be injured by the high sugar level, becoming fragile, resulting in hemorrhages or edema that eventually cause a loss of visual acuity.

Both patients with type 1 diabetes and patients with type 2 diabetes are at risk of suffering from this pathology, although it is four times more frequent in type 1 diabetics.

Main symptoms: blurred vision, image distortion or difficulty in reading or seeing close-up.

A characteristic of diabetic retinopathy is that its symptoms may be imperceptible and vision may not be affected until the disease is already at a very advanced stage.

The most frequent symptoms are:

  • Blurred or mottled vision.
  • Distortion of images.
  • Difficulty reading or seeing up close.
  • Alterations in the visual field or night vision or severe loss of visual acuity in case of massive hemorrhages inside the eye.

Because of this, the most important recommendation for a diabetic patient is not to wait for symptoms. Be sure to periodically have a complete dilated eye exam.

The risk of blindness due to diabetes is 10 times higher

Keeping in mind that the risk of blindness in people with diabetes is 10 times higher than in a person without diabetes. Patients with type 1 diabetes should have their first examination 3-5 years after diagnosis with annual follow-up; while patients with type 2 diabetes should have their first examination at the time of diagnosis with annual follow-up.

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For the detection of this pathology, a complete eye examination should be performed including:

  • Measurement of visual acuity
  • Measurement of eye strain
  • Examination of the iris and fundus after dilating the pupil.

If the retina is already affected, it will be necessary to perform other complementary tests.

Early diagnosis is key

In this disease, early diagnosis is key to avoid progression and blindness, hence the importance of regular check-ups. This is the only way to reduce the percentage that indicates that half of the people blinded by diabetes have never previously visited an ophthalmologist.

In fact, the complications of diabetic retinopathy can be prevented in 80% of cases with early detection. To this we must also add recommendations such as:

  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Controlling body weight.
  • Control blood pressure, glycemia and plasma lipids.

People who maintain a blood glucose level close to normal are less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.