Diabetic Retinopathy Screening
Diabetes can have extremely detrimental effects on vision. The disease can contribute to the development of cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive condition that can lead to blindness, and it becomes a higher risk the longer someone lives with diabetes. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Once blockage of the blood supply to the retina occurs, new vessels may begin to grow, but if they don’t develop properly they can leak and cause scar tissue and vision loss.
Stages of Retinopathy:
- Mild Non-proliferative Retinopathy: The earliest stage of retinopathy in which microaneurysms, or areas of swelling in the retina’s blood vessels occur.
- Moderate Non-proliferative Retinopathy: Some blood vessels that nourish the retina are blocked.
- Severe Non-proliferative Retinopathy: More blood vessels become blocked, depriving a number of areas in the retina of blood flow. These areas begin to send signals to the body to create more blood vessels to compensate for the blocked ones.
- Proliferative Retinopathy: The advanced stage of retinopathy, in which new blood vessels that are abnormally fragile develop. Once they begin to leak blood, vision loss occurs.
Early detection can reduce vision loss by 90 percent. Most patients who develop the disease do not have any symptoms until its later stages, so it is important to have regular vision exams that include diabetic screenings for the signs of the disease.
A healthy lifestyle, consistent blood sugar and blood pressure management can usually slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy when it is in the moderate or mild stages. If the disease has progressed to a more severe stage, surgery may be required. Even though surgery can sometimes slow or stop the progression of retinopathy, diabetes is a lifelong disease, and further damage is always a possibility.
Continual diabetic screenings for retinopathy can significantly decrease your risk of severe vision loss, but there is no complete cure for the disease. Good blood sugar management and general health is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy from occurring.
Dr. Guglielmetti also provides treatment for other diseases that can cause blindness, such as glaucoma. In addition, he is a respected LASIK surgeon in South Africa and provides cataract surgery in Johannesburg to patients with generally healthy vision.