Diabetic retinopathy

What is it?

Progressive disease of the blood vessels and retinal tissue in sufferers of diabetes. The duration of the diabetes is the main factor in the appearance of retinopathy. It is accepted that controlling the underlying illness delays its appearance.

Why does it happen?

Hyperglycemia causes alterations to the walls of the blood vessels, they become more permeable and allow liquid (edema) to leak and even burst (hemorrhage). All of this causes a reduction of irrigation which, in an effort to repair itself, causes a proliferation of anomalous vessels (neovessels) which bleed even more readily.

Risk factors

Other factors which have negative effects are: hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity and smoking.

Symptoms

May initially be symptomless. Then blurred vision which may become severe and even complete.

Diagnosis

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is the technique of choice, is painless and has no side-effects. Makes it possible to measure the thickening of the retina due to the edema and control its development. Fluorescein angiography, a technique with endovenous contrast, is sometimes indispensable.

Treatment

Always depending on the state it has reached:
  • Photocoagulation with argon laser
  • Vitrectomy
  • Intravitreal injections

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