Diabetes is a disease of blood sugar metabolism that can affect blood vessels all over the body. Small blood vessels in the kidneys and retina – the lining of the back of the eye – are especially susceptible to damage, even more so after many years of diabetes. When diabetes affects the retina, this is known as diabetic retinopathy. The ‘central’ part of the retina, the ‘macula’, is important for your best vision. If this is affected it is known as diabetic maculopathy. The damage to blood vessels is caused by chronic high sugar levels within the cells, which have resulted in many complex pathways of inflammation being activated. High blood pressure is also very significant in adding to blood vessel damage.
Early changes in the retina do not usually cause symptoms, but it is crucial to detect these quickly. We use a number of different imaging tools for this – widefield retinal photography with Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy (SLO), Optical Coherence Topography (OCT) and Fluorescein Angiography (FFA).
Monitoring may be sufficient in many cases but, if treatment is necessary, we have a number of treatments available which are extremely effective at keeping the retinopathy under control.
The best control of your diabetes and blood pressure is essential to reducing the risk of progression in these changes.
With regular monitoring – yearly if there are no changes, and more often as necessary – the risks to your vision are very low, as treatments started early are most effective.
At Clinica London we have five specialist consultant ophthalmologists forming Retina Care at Clinica, which includes eye intravitreal injections, retinal surgery and laser. All of Clinica’s Retinal Specialists are experienced in the assessment and treatment of retinal conditions, including diabetic eye disease.