Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is one of the most frequent causes of blindness worldwide. Twenty years ago in India, DR was the 17th most common cause of blindness, but it ranks now as the sixth leading cause. The World Health Organization (WHO), under its VISION 2020 initiative, aims to control eye diseases, and DR is among target diseases.
There is low level of awareness of the disease and of its treatment modalities among communities and physicians.
According to the WHO, 31.7 million people were affected by diabetes in India in 2000. This figure is estimated to rise to 79.4 million by 2030, the largest diabetic population of any nation in the world. It is estimated that 15% to 25% of the population with diabetes have DR, and other people
with the disease have the potential to develop DR over a period of time.
Symptoms- At first, Patient does not notice any change in the vision, but don't let diabetic retinopathy fool you. The condition could get worse over the years and threaten your vision. With timely treatment, 90% of those with advanced diabetic retinopathy can be saved from blindness.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy and its complications may include:
- Blurry or distorted vision
- Difficulty reading
- Eye floaters
- Partial or total vision loss or what feels like a permanent shadow cast across your field of vision
Patient may have decrease vision because of Macular Oedema (swelling in the central part of the retina),Vitreous hemorrhage( bleeding inside the eyes) & /or Retinal detachment (Traction on the retina).
The best treatment for early-stage diabetic retinopathy is a preventative one. Monitor the blood sugar levels and schedule a yearly eye exam. Often, effectively managing diabetes greatly slows the development of retinopathy.
In advanced stages of the disease, common treatments include:
- Focal laser treatment During the procedure, abnormal blood vessels are treated with laser burns. This treatment is completed in one session and normal vision usually returns within a day or two.
- Scatter laser treatment This procedure typically takes two or more sessions, completed in a clinic. Scatter laser treatment utilizes lasers to shrink and scar the abnormal blood vessels in the retina. Vision usually returns within a day or two. The procedure may cause marginal damage to peripheral vision and/or night vision.
Intraocular injection – Intraocular injection of AntiVEGF drugs and/or steroids help in selected patients.
- Vitrectomy A vitrectomy is completed in a surgery centre and often takes a week or more to recover. This procedure removes blood and scar tissue from the eye and is frequently performed to reattach the retina if the disease causes the detachment of the retina. The operation may be executed in joint with laser treatments.