June 15, 2004
Diabetic retinopathy affects
the blood vessels of the retina, the portion of the eye that receives
visual images. High levels of blood sugar cause these blood vessels
to leak fluid into the macula (the light-sensitive part of the retina),
which in turn causes the vision to become blurred. If left untreated,
this can lead to blindness. In advanced stages of the disease, new
blood vessels can grow over the retina, causing scar tissue and,
in severe instances, retinal detachment. This disease only affects
people with diabetes, but in staggering numbersone out of
every two diabetics will develop diabetic retinopathy.
In its earliest stage, you may not notice any difference
in your vision. Often the first sign are floaters, particles that
pass across your field of vision but are not really there. Difficulty
doing close work or double vision can be signs that blood is leaking
into the macula. This leads to swelling, also known as macular edema,
a condition that usually causes blurry vision.
Diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed by test called
a flourescein angiography, wherein dye is introduced into the body.
The blood carries the dye to the retina, and once there the eyes
are photographed by an ophthalmologist, who can then determine the
seriousness of the condition.
In extreme cases, laser surgery is performed
to close the leaking blood vessels. It can also be used to remove
the stray blood vessels that have grown on the retina.
When it comes to diabetic retinopathy, the best plan is a defensive
one. Keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control, get
regular eye exams, and eat a healthy diet that includes many cruciferous
vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.
Read More on Vision:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Age-related
Antioxidants for AMD and Cataracts
Red Light Therapy for Macular Degeneration
Ozone Therapy for Macular Degeneration
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