Early diagnosis is key to the successful treatment of eye diseases derived from diabetes, as stated by the head of the Retina Unit at Hospiten Rambla University Hospital, Alicia Pareja, after confirming an increase in cases of diabetic retinopathy after COVID-19.
The specialist explains that during the pandemic people with diabetes reduced the amount of physical activity they did and changed their diet, which led to a progression of retinopathy.
"Diabetic retinopathy does not cause symptoms in its initial stage, so early diagnosis of the disease can prevent future complications".
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can cause partial or total loss of vision and blindness in people with diabetes. It mainly affects the blood vessels in the retina and the retinal parenchyma. In more advanced stages of the disease, newly formed blood vessels in the retina can bleed into the vitreous, causing vision loss. Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy.
Symptoms and treatment
Diabetic retinopathy is asymptomatic in its early stages, and in other cases, it becomes noticeable through decreased visual acuity, image distortion, sudden vision loss or blindness.
According to Dr. Alicia Pareja, the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy is usually delayed, so once the disease is reported, it is important to consult to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to check for lesions at the back of the eye.
Eye specialists can check for diabetic retinopathy during an examination of the eye with the pupil dilated. It can also be detected by means of retinography (a photo of the back of the eye). Monitoring the eye for diabetes is always carried out in both eyes, even if one eye is not affected.
Some patients with diabetic retinopathy require only regular check-ups of their condition or injections of intraocular drugs. In other cases, the application of laser is necessary and, in more advanced cases, surgery, like vitrectomy, is required.