Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetes causes non-inflammatory changes in the retina known as diabetic retinopathy.

Most diabetics know that the disease can damage their eyes. Diabetes causes non-inflammatory changes in the retina known as diabetic retinopathy. This is one of the main causes of blindness in Estonia in the age group of 30-65 years. Diabetic retinopathy does not cause vision impairment at its early stages, but there is still the risk of losing sight. When diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed in time, it is possible to delay the progression of the disease or preserve sight with laser therapy. Each patient with diabetes has to keep in mind two things:

  • Diabetic retinopathy is one of the main causes of blindness;
  • The only effective treatment is laser therapy performed in time.

What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages the retina of the eyeball. The retina is the light-sensitive and light-penetrable layer of the eye. In order for a person to see, light has to pass through the cornea, lens and vitreous body (gel-like substance inside the eye that belongs to the optic system of the eye) and reach the retina. The image that occurs in the retina is transferred to the brain via the optic nerve. Macula located in the central part of the retina make it possible to see details and read texts.

Due to the changes caused by diabetes small blood vessels (capillaries) can get obstructed, which results in leaking of the blood outside the vessels. This causes oedema in the central part of the retina and emergence of new blood vessels in the eye. But these new blood vessels do not have normal vessel walls; therefore, blood can leak out of these vessels and the eye gets filled with blood. This condition is called haematoma or haemorrhaging of the vitreous body.