Lifestyle changes key to preventing diabetic retinopathyDid you know that diabetes increases your risk for serious health problems? The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the higher your chances of developing disabling or lifethreatening complications.
This includes diabetic retinopathy, a potentially blinding eye condition that affects people who have had diabetes for at least 10 years, have poor control of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, are pregnant, or are smokers.
Usually affecting both eyes, it occurs when chronic high blood sugar causes blockage of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. As a response, the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels that don’t develop properly and can leak fluid, leading to distortion of vision. If not detected early or left untreated, diabetic retinopathy could lead to permanent vision loss.
“Anyone with diabetes is at risk for diabetic retinopathy,” says Asian Eye Institute retina and vitreous disease specialist Dr. Amadeo Veloso Jr. “It has no symptoms at the onset, but as it progresses, people may see clear, gray or black strings floating across vision (floaters), experience blurry or fluctuating vision, have impaired colored vision or worse, loss of vision.”
There is no cure for diabetic retinopathy yet. Dr. Veloso explains: “Laser surgeries or vitrectomy are aimed at slowing down its progression and preventing vision loss. Diabetes is a lifelong condition, so there is always a possibility of retinal damage and vision loss.”
Diabetic patients must make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay diabetic retinopathy. They must control their blood sugar and blood pressure, eat healthy and quit smoking. More importantly, they should undergo comprehensive eye exams at least once a year to monitor their eye condition.
Early detection and timely treatment can protect patients from vision loss. Asian Eye has retina and vitreous disease specialists who can help detect and manage diabetic retinopathy. (Story/Photo by: Charizze Henson)