The Affects Of Diabetes And Retinopathy On The Eyes

October 19, 2007 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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By Adrian Whittle

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body cannot reduce the level of the sugar in the blood. This causes a number of problems. Sugar is the primary source of energy to the cells and without this energy the cells starve. This is a major concern, especially to people with type 1 diabetes, and insulin replacement therapy is needed to facilitate this process. High levels of sugar in the blood for many years has effects on many of the body’s organs and systems. Thus many people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes will have a poor circulation system. Their immune system may not be as responsive or efficient and they may have an increased risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. Another common complication of diabetes is problems with the eyes. The most common problem is known as diabetic retinopathy and is a consequence of the poor circulation. This article will discuss diabetes and retinopathy and other eye problems that may occur.

Diabetes retinopathy is the most common complication of the disease in the eye. To a lesser extent a diabetic can suffer from cataracts and glaucoma but they are generally easy to detect and treat. Retinopathy is not that easy to spot and it is important that get a regular eye examination annually as part of the ongoing treatment for diabetes.

Diabetic retinopathy is categorized by the potential to lead to blindness.

Background retinopathy is the early stage of the condition. It is part of the micro vascular disease process whereby retinal blood vessels are affected by the thickening of the base membrane and the decrease in pericytes around the blood vessels. This makes the blood vessels weak and they are prone to get micro aneurysms or small dilations in the blood vessel. They appear as red dots at the back of the eye. Over time they will disappear however they are a sign that the vessels are weakened and may burst or rupture at some later stage. If this occurs blood is released to form retinal hemorrhages and hard exudates. Exudates are essentially scars from previous hemorrhages. If they occur in the macular area of the eye (where the lens focuses an image at the back of the eye) then vision loss will occur.

Proliferative retinopathy is the next stage. As there is less blood flow to the eyes the body compensates by producing more capillaries to supply blood to the eye. This is where the term proliferative comes from, the capillaries are multiplying across the eye, particularly in the vitreous body. If these capillaries hemorrhage they will cloud the vision. As they heal they will clot or become fibrotic. They can pull the retina during this stage and cause retinal detachment and loss of vision.

There is no treatment for diabetic retinopathy, except for laser surgery to cauterize blood vessels and capillaries that may be a cause for concern. The other alternative is to keep blood sugar levels low and consistent. As this is a never ending task it is important to understand how food affects blood sugar levels. You should implement a diabetic diet plan that includes eating regularly and eating the right kinds of foods. You should also implement an exercise regime as part of the ongoing treatment.

Learn more about diabetic diet plans at The site deals with diets and eating healthy foods, diabetic testing supplies and some common symptoms and conditions of diabetes. Adrian Whittle writes on issues related to diabetes including diabetic retinopathy and an explanation of diabetic neuropathy.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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