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What Is Diabetic Retinopathy, and How Is It Treated?

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If you have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus for several years, you probably have noticed some eyesight changes, including some blurriness and other difficulties. These differences may be just normal aging, but for the diabetic there is also a real concern that you may have eye problems that are complications of your diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults, and changes in the retina, glaucoma, cataracts and macular edema are some of the most noteworthy complications. This article answers the question "What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?" and also describes other Diabetes related eye problems.

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Retinopathy in Diabetes

Doctors diagnose Type 2 Diabetics with Retinopathy when significant changes are noted in the retina, the back of the eye that captures the reflection of what you see and transmits it to your brain. The macula is the center of the retina, and is the part of the eye most responsible sharp precise visual experiences. Damage to the blood vessels and other changes in the retina are most often due to the same kind of changes in circulation that are problems for Diabetes in the feet, kidneys, and other extremities. However because the blood vessels of the eye can be fragile, the impact of the chronic diabetes process can mean that the eyes are among the most vulnerable areas where a diabetic will experience complications.

Most diabetics will eventually experience some type of retinopathy, and after about 10 years, the condition may be expected to manifest. The longer you have had diabetes, or the more severe your diabetic condition, the more likely you are to have diabetic retinopathy.

Two Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

What is Diabetic Retinopathy? There are two different types. Nonproliferative retinopathy is a less severe and more acute retinal problem in which the capillaries in the retina break and cause the macula to swell. This swelling, known as edema, causes the vision to blur.

The more complicated and chronic form of diabetic retinopathy is known as proliferative retinopathy. In this complication, the damage to the retina leads to the growth of new blood vessels in places where they are generally not supposed to be. These blood vessels are tiny, and when they break, they bleed into the inner eye, and the result can be dark spots and floaters (visual changes that are chronic, and appear initially like something in the eye, but they never really resolve, although it is not too hard to grow accustomed to them).

Other Eye Problems with Diabetes Mellitus

Other eyesight problems can also develop with Diabetes Mellitus especially in adults. Cataracts can form, and in diabetics over 60, the risk for the most common type, known as senile cataract, increases about 40%. Glaucoma can also be a problem with Diabetes, and is twice as likely to occur in adults with diabetes. Diabetic complications are usually expressed in the most common, (open-angle) glaucoma but infrequently it can also be part of the neovascularization process in Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, because when the tiny blood vessels begin to grow, they can cut off the free flow of fluid in they eye, and the pressure is increased, and thus the glaucoma.

Now that you have some knowledge of what diabetic retinopathy is, the question is what can you do? The most important thing is regular eye exams and good control of your blood sugars. There are a number of surgical interventions such as cryogenics (freezing) and laser surgery, but most of these are only used in the very advanced stages of the complications.

Prevention is better than cure. So, the easiest solution is to keep the blood sugar level normal. Before entering into these complications focus to maintain the level normal, try to stay put to your medicines and diet and live a tension free, healthy, happy life.

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