Did you know that diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems? If you have had diabetes for a long time and have poor control of your blood sugar level, you’re at higher risk of developing disabling complications like diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a potentially blinding condition that occurs when there are chronic high levels of blood sugar in the retina.
According to Asian Eye Institute retina and vitreous disease specialist Dr. Patricia Quilendrino, having too much blood sugar can cause a blockage in the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina.
“When this happens, the blood supply to the retina is cut off. As a response, the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels. These new blood vessels don’t develop properly and can leak fluid, leading to distorted vision,” she explained.
“Anyone with diabetes is at risk of diabetic retinopathy, but it is more common in people who have had diabetes for at least 10 years. The longer you’ve had it, the higher your chances of getting this condition,” she added.
Pregnant women, as well as those who smoke and have poor control of blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol, are also at risk.
Diabetic retinopathy has no symptoms in the early stages, so patients are not usually aware they have it.
“When it advances, they start seeing floaters. These are the clear, gray or black strings that they see floating across their vision. They may also experience blurry or fluctuating vision, impaired colored vision or worse, vision loss,” Quilendrino said.
However, patients should not wait for these symptoms to manifest before seeking medical treatment.
“A comprehensive eye exam can diagnose diabetic retinopathy,” Quilendrino noted. “Diabetics should monitor their eye condition by visiting their eye doctor at least every 6 months.”
“During the eye exam, we do various tests to check the retina or the back parts of the eye to see if blood vessels are leaking fluid and if the fluid has leaked into the retinal tissue.”
For patients who are hesitant to take a comprehensive eye exam, they can choose to try the EyeScan.
Eyescan is an eye disease pre-screening service that can detect signs of sight-threatening diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, cataracts, glaucoma and corneal problems. Ideal for people who are always on-the-go, the test is done in less than 10 minutes. It is also non-invasive, doesn’t emit radiation and doesn’t require eye dilation that makes vision blurry for a few hours.
“Eyescan takes digital images of the front and back parts of the eyes. These images are then read by certified image readers. If they find any irregularities, patients will be recommended to consult with a retina specialist for further examination,” explained Quilendrino.
EyeScan is currently available at Asian Eye Vision Center U.P. Town Center and HealthFirst Legaspi Towers 200 and other partner companies.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy yet. Treatment options like vitrectomy and laser surgeries are aimed at slowing down its progression and preventing vision loss.
Since diabetes is a lifelong condition, there is always a possibility of retinal damage and vision loss. That is why Quilendrino urged diabetic patients to make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay diabetic retinopathy.
“Always make sure to control your blood sugar and blood pressure. Eat healthy and quit smoking. More importantly, get your eyes checked regularly,” she advised, adding that 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. It is located at Phinma Plaza in Rockwell Center, Makati with satellite clinics in TriNoma, Mall of Asia, Commercenter Alabang, and Vision Center – UP Town Center, Quezon City and Legaspi Towers 200, Makati City.
For inquiries, call at 898-2020 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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