The retina is a very important structure in the eye, composed mainly of nerve fibers which allow the images we see to be transmitted to the brain. There are some common systemic conditions, such as diabetes which can affect the retina and the macula resulting in poor vision for the patient. Other conditions such as age-related macular degeneration may also result in poor vision for the patient.
Diabetic Eye Screening
As diabetes is a chronic condition, patients may develop diabetic eye disease in the long run. Patients who are not compliant to keep their blood sugar levels low may be at a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease as well. Diabetic eye disease can present itself through a few ways. They include diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, vitreous haemorrhage, neovascular glaucoma and cataract.
Therefore, patients who have already been diagnosed with diabetes are highly recommended to have their eyes screened.
Diabetic Eye Diseases
Diabetic retinopathy is caused by retinal ischaemia where there is lack of blood supply to the retina which results in formation of weak new blood vessels and leakage of blood vessels. This will result in bleeding of the eye and swelling of the retina.
Vitreous haemorrhage is when the leaked blood in the retina flows to the clear gel like substance (vitreous) of the eye.
Diabetic macular edema or diabetic maculopathy is when there are leakages of blood vessels and swelling of the macula. This is the most common cause of poor vision in a patient as the macular is part of the retina that gives us good vision.
Neovascular glaucoma develops in eyes with late stages of diabetic eye disease. The eye responds to the lack of blood supply to the eye by producing abnormal new blood vessels at the front part of the eye, typically seen on the iris and obstructing the fluid drainage channel of the eye. This would cause complications such as pressure build up in the eye, resulting in a severe optic nerve damage.
Diabetes can lead to cataract formation in the eye as uncontrolled diabetes causes sugar levels to increase in the aqueous fluid and affecting the lens. This would then lead to progressive blurring of vision over time.
Long-term diabetes and poorly controlled diabetes can cause reduced blood flow to the eye. This may result in the ischaemia of the optic nerve.