Ocular health can be affected by diabetes, since excess glucose can end up affecting the macula. The Dra. Figueroa, retina expert ophthalmologist , talks about diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetes is a natural disease that interferes with the natural capacity of the pancreas to produce the insulin necessary for our body. This insulin is essential, since it is what allows us to control the levels of sugar in our blood.
Eye diseases related to diabetes
Diabetes is a systemic disease whose prevalence has increased alarmingly in recent decades. Diabetic retinopathy is the affection of the retina caused by diabetes, and occurs as a result of the alteration of blood vessels and neurons.
Four out of ten diabetics suffer vision problems derived from diabetic retinopathy, which is also the leading cause of blindness in Spain. Many of these cases could be avoided with the early detection of the disease. In fact this is the goal of the 2017 Year of the Retina , declared by the Government of Spain as an event of exceptional public interest, which seeks to raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the retina.
Risk factors in diabetes that affect ocular health
The main risk factor for the development of diabetic retinopathy is poor metabolic control, that is, high blood sugar levels (glycemia). It is therefore very important that diabetics manage to maintain adequate levels of blood glucose, especially the first ten years since the diagnosis of the disease. Other risk factors are having high blood pressure, high lipid levels, being overweight or smoking.
These alterations can be of different severity, from minimal ones that do not need treatment, to others that are treated with surgery. The most frequent cause of vision loss in diabetic patients is macular edema or fluid accumulation in the macula (central part of the retina). Another complication that can appear in these patients is the appearance of neovessels or abnormal blood vessels, which can grow and cause a retinal detachment or a vitreous hemorrhage that is the most frequent complication of diabetic retinopathy.
Prevention and control of diabetes to control eye health
In order to treat the lesions as soon as they appear and prevent vision loss, it is necessary to make regular controls of the retina by a specialist. At this time we have drugs that applied directly to the eye, stabilize and improve diabetic retinopathy (antiangiogenic and corticosteroids). The biggest drawback of these treatments is the need for periodic reviews and injections, which is why they are investigating devices that help increase the time between treatments. Microincision surgery also has an important role in the treatment of retinal complications due to diabetes with good results and improved vision.