Does diabetic retinopathy occur in every diabetic?

Retinopathy can occur in:

  • young insulin-dependent diabetics;
  • diabetics whose diabetes is controlled only with dietary regimen;
  • diabetics treated with oral antidiabetic drugs;
  • diabetics with well-controlled disease if diabetes has lasted for sufficiently long time.

Is it possible to prevent the development of retinopathy?

It is not possible to prevent diabetic retinopathy, but adherence to the treatment recommendations of diabetes delays the development of diabetic complications (including retinopathy). Therefore, it is important to:

  • stick to the prescribed dietary regimen;
  • take your medicines correctly;
  • monitor your blood pressure;
  • avoid being overweight;
  • not smoke;
  • not consume alcohol.

Sticking to these recommendations does not reverse the changes that have already occurred, but they delay the progression of the damages!

Will eye checks prevent the occurrence of these changes?

  • No, eye checks do not prevent these changes, but early detection of alterations in the eye make it possible to start treatment in time and avoid losing sight. Retinopathy does not occur in pre-pubertal age. From pubertal age each diabetic patient should check his/her eyes at least once per year, and twice per year (or even more frequently when recommended so by an ophthalmologist) if signs of retinopathy have already occurred in the eye.

What does an eye check involve?
An eye check involves a check of visual acuity and examination of the eye with split-lamp and special magnifying lenses. Before the investigation eye drops are instilled into the eye that make the pupil wider, so that the eyes and possible alterations can be seen properly. Vision (especially at close distances) may be blurred with wide pupils; therefore, your ability to drive a car may be affected. It is recommended not to drive when coming to an ophthalmologist consultation.

Are additional investigations necessary?
A colour picture is taken from the eyes with a special camera, if necessary. This documents the changes in the eye, which makes possible later comparisons and better monitoring of the patient. Sometimes it may be necessary to also perform fluorescin angiography (FAG) investigation to find out the cause of vision impairment. FAG is an investigation where contrasting agent is used for evaluating the condition of the retinal blood vessels. This test is mostly used for three following purposes:

  • to establish exact diagnosis;
  • to find out areas in eye that require laser therapy;
  • to find out the cause why patient has lost his/her sight (e.g. diabetic maculopathy).