High blood sugar from uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to serious medical complications in many parts of the body. Because of its associated complications, type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, limb amputations and kidney failure all over the world.
Let’s first discuss about the effect of diabetes on eyes.
Prolonged exposure to high sugar levels (in poorly controlled diabetes) damages blood vessels that nourish the retina (inner sensitive membrane of an eye).
This permits leakage of blood components through the vessel walls onto the retina. The damage to retina due to diabetes is known as- ‘Diabetic Retinopathy’. Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to loss of vision if not treated in early stages.
Risk Factors for Diabetic Retinopathy:
- Poor blood sugar control
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Kidney disease
Diabetic Retinopathy often has no EARLY warning signs neither there are noticeable changes in vision. Regular screening to look for retinopathy thus becomes a cornerstone in diabetes management & prevention of such complications.
About 20% of people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have some degree of retinopathy at diagnosis, probably because they had diabetes many years before they were diagnosed. Thus following schedule needs to be followed for screening for retinopathy.
When to Check?
Type 2 Diabetes
- At the time of diagnosis
- Henceforth every 1-2 hourly
Type 1 Diabetes
- Within 5 years of diagnosis & then after puberty
Diabetic Retinopathy is the number one cause of preventable blindness in the World. With early detection & appropriate treatment (e.g. Laser treatment), most people with retinopathy can prevent loss of vision. Timely screening by an expert along with optimum control of blood sugar, blood pressure & blood cholesterol are the key to prevention of retinopathy.