Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems that can affect people with diabetes. Few of the conditions include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataract and glaucoma.

Diabetes causes damage to the tiny blood vessels in the back of your eye (retina)if your blood glucose stays high over time. Damaged blood vessels may leak fluid and can cause swelling of the retina/macula called as diabetic macular edema. New, abnormal blood vessels may also begin to grow and these blood vessels can bleed causing retinal haemorrhages or in severe cases vitreous haemorrhage (vitreous is a jelly like substance in front of the retina). Later this blood forms membrane over the retina and the contraction of this membrane pulls on the retina causing retinal detachment. The new abnormal blood vessels can also cause dangerously high pressure inside your eye. These changes in the retina are termed as diabetic retinopathy. Often, there are no warning signs of diabetic eye disease or vision loss when damage first develops. A full, dilated eye examination helps your Ophthalmologist find and treat these eye problems early, often before much vision loss can occur. So, it is very important to get your retina examined regularly even though the vision is normal.

At Purohit Hospital, Kamothe every patient is screened for glaucoma as a part of routine eye examination. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) rises, gradually damaging or weakening the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the nerve responsible for vision. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain. It transmits sensory information for vision in the form of electrical impulses from eye. Thus, weakened optic nerve would lead to gradual loss of field of vision and sometimes total blindness if not detected and controlled early.Elevated eye pressure is due to a build up of fluid called aqueous humor. The fluid is produced inside the eye and normally drains out through a tissue called trabecular meshwork. When this fluid is over produced or the drainage system does not work properly, the pressure of the eye increases.

Glaucoma tends to run in families, so it is advisable to get yourself checked from an Ophthalmologist if you have a family history of glaucoma.Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs or no symptoms in the early phase. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in the vision until the condition is at an advanced stage. Because vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, it is important to have regular eye exams that includes measurements of your eye pressure, so a diagnosis can be made in early stages and treated appropriately. If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed. Glaucoma cannot be cured only controlled. If you have glaucoma you will generally need treatment for the rest of your life. Periodic eye checkup is mandatory for someone who has been diagnosed with glaucoma.

Anyone with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease. Your risk is greater with:

  • High blood glucose that is not treated
  • High blood pressure that is not treated

Smoking may also raise your risk for diabetic eye disease.

Often there are no early symptoms of diabetic eye disease. You may have no pain and no change in your vision in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Blurry or wavy vision
  • Dark areas or vision loss
  • Flashes of light
  • Spots or dark strings (floaters)
  • Sudden change in your vision including flashes of light or many more spots (floaters) than usual.
  • If you feel like a curtain is pulled over your eyes

These symptoms can be due to detached retina which is an emergency.

Most people with diabetes should see an Ophthalmologist once a year for a complete eye examination. Your doctor may recommend having eye exams more often than once a year along with management of your diabetes which includes managing your glycosylated haemoglobin, blood pressure, cholesterol and quitting smoking.

Lasers, intraocular injections, surgery (vitrectomy) or a combination of these options may be used for treatment of diabetic retinopathy.