Vision for the Future Understanding Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common vascularcomplication of diabetes and the leading cause of vision loss among workingage Americans.Vision loss occurs in two principal ways. Macular edema, in which blood vessels leak,and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, in which blood vessels grow haphazardly on theretina. Both can block the vision centers within the eye resulting in reduced abilityto see clearly and potentially leading to complete blindness. Most strikingly, the diseasecan be rapidly destroying the eyes blood vessels without and noticeable symptoms. This is whys stress the importance of regular in depth eye exams, the best way to catch thedisease before it does irreparable harm. Eyes
are sensitive organs, a network of blood vesselsand sensors that translate the light pouring in every second into comprehensible objects.If any one part of that network is misshapen or out of balance your vision distorts. Youcan see the , in this case it's the blue iris, and the center of the iris is the pupil, whichis just an opening in the iris. So images are coming in, they're going through the cornea,through the hole in the iris, which is the pupil, and then through your natural crystallinelens which is right here behind your pupil. The inside of the eyeball is filled up witha gel like material called the vitreous, and then finally the inner wall of the eyeballis the retina. We also have the optic nerve
which is connecting our eye to our brain andallows us to see. The retina is the thin film or membrane that lines the back of the eye.What happens is it contains the light sensing cells, so that light that comes into the eyeactually gets sense by the cells in the retina. These cells then transmit the light and informationthrough the optic nerve into the brain so that it gets processed. Diabetic retinopathycauses changes in the blood vessels of the retina falling into two categories: macularedema and proliferative diabetic retinopathy. The complications start when high blood sugarcauses loss of capillaries, and thus, reduced oxygen, triggering a repair response thatstimulates new blood vessel growth in an attempt
to bring more oxygen to the choking retina.Macular edema can arise on it's own or when the eye tries to make new blood vessels. Makingnew blood vessels means breaking the old ones apart, causing them to leak, which may blockthe central vision cells in the retina. Proliferative diabetic retinopathy arises from the lackof oxygen when new retinal blood vessels form in a disorganized way, frantically tryingto make up for the lost oxygen. This chaotic proliferation could eventually pull the retinaoff of the back of the eye, causing complete blindness. By the 1960s, with diabetic patientsliving longer, diabetic eye disease grew to impact a large portion of the diabetes population,eventually threatening more than half of patients
with the possibility of significant and irreversiblevisual loss.