Diabetes-related vision loss growing worldwide

The worldwide burden of diabetes-related vision loss is growing alarmingly. Over 2 decades from 1990-2010, the number of people worldwide with diabetes-related blindness or visual impairment rose by an alarming 27 percent and 64 percent, respectively. In 2010, 1 in every 52 people had vision loss and 1 in every 39 people were blind due to diabetic retinopathy – where the retina is damaged by diabetes.

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The researchers suggest poor control of blood glucose and inadequate access to eye health services in many parts of the world are contributing to the growing global burden of diabetes-related vision loss.

 

These figures are the result of an analysis by a global consortium, who recently published their work online in the journal Diabetes Care.

As the number of people living with diabetes worldwide grows, so increases the risk of more people developing diabetic retinopathy and suffering subsequent vision loss, especially if they do not receive or adhere to the care they need.

Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retina that damages sight as a result of chronic high blood sugar in diabetes. The high sugar damages the delicate blood vessels in the retina – the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.

As the damage increases, the blood vessels begin to leak and distort vision. In people with advanced diabetic retinopathy, new, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, causing further damage and eventually permanent scarring and vision loss or blindness.

Lead author Janet Leasher, associate professor of the College of Optometry at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, says:

“Unfortunately diabetic retinopathy usually does not have any symptoms in the early stages.”

Thus, it is important that people with diabetes have their eyes tested every year, follow the advice of their eye health practitioner, and make sure they keep their blood sugar under control.

 

Researchers suggest poor control of blood glucose and inadequate access to eye health services in many parts of the world are contributing to the rising numbers of people with diabetes-related vision loss.

 

Lead investigator Rupert R.A. Bourne, professor and associate director of the Vision and Eye Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom, says:

“With the alarming prevalence of vision loss due to diabetes rising more than two thirds in the last 20 years, the precipitous global epidemic of diabetes must be addressed.”

He and his colleagues suggest policymakers in the regions most affected by diabetic retinopathy should develop and implement plans for preserving the vision of diabetic adults, screen for diabetic retinopathy, and improve glucose and blood pressure in diabetics.

They should also intensify efforts to prevent and treat diabetic retinopathy – for instance, by introducing laser treatments, use of intravitreal injections of steroids, and anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs.

“People diagnosed with diabetes should have a dilated eye health examination at least every year and be advised by their eye care practitioner for their personal situation. Patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to determine the best methods to control their blood sugar levels.”

 

Source : Prof. Janet Leasher

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

 

If you have any questions or would like to book an eye examination contact us

 


Retinal Imaging Offers a Better View and Early Detection

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Digital retinal imaging uses high-resolution imaging systems to take pictures of the inside of your eye. This helps our Optician to assess the health of your retina and helps them to detect and manage such eye and health conditions as glaucoma, diabetes, and macular degeneration. Finding retinal disorders as early as possible is critical to potentially preventing serious disease progression and even vision loss.

 

 

A Piece of History

In addition to helping detect diseases early, retinal images provide a permanent and historical record of changes in your eye. Images can be compared side-by-side, year after year, to discover even subtle changes and help monitor your health.

Retinal images also make it easier for your doctor to educate you about your health and wellness. The two of you can review your images together, and your doctor can point out the various structures of the retina and explain treatment options for any conditions revealed by the pictures. The more you know about eye diseases, the more likely you will understand and follow your opticians recommendations for treatment and prevention.

Here are just some of the diseases retinal imaging can help a optician notice or see more closely:

Age-related Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is usually signified by leaking of fluid or bleeding in the back of the eye. This causes central vision loss.

Cancer
A dark spot at the back of the eye may signal a melanoma, which can grow unnoticed within the retina. If caught early, melanomas can be treated before they cause serious damage and travel to other areas of the body through the bloodstream.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetes can cause changes in the blood vessels of the retina, like swelling and leakage or the creation of new blood vessels. Blindness can result without early detection.

Glaucoma
Pressure against the optic nerve and compression of the eye’s blood vessels may indicate glaucoma. This disease causes permanent and irreversible vision loss.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Signs of high blood pressure often appear first in the eye. Indicators can include narrowing of the blood vessels, spots on the retina, or bleeding in the back of the eye.

Retinal Detachment
Retinas can lift or pull away from the wall of the eye. If not properly treated, this can cause permanent vision loss.

Unia Opticians Performs Retinal Imaging with our Eye Test Contact us to find out more

 


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