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Is Your Retina Affected By Persistent High Blood Sugar Levels?

May 23, 2022


It is estimated that more than 30 million of the population are living with diabetes in India. And according to estimation, around 7.7 million people have coexistent diabetic retinopathy. That is why this is one of the most widely recognized reason for impaired vision in adults. The spread and effect of diabetic retinopathy have been expanded vastly in recent years. This condition of diabetic retinopathy is caused when wall of blood vessels in the retina get damaged by the increased level of sugar in the blood. These blood vessels can swell and leak and cause the blood flow to reduce and stop.

What Should You Know About Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is associated with diabetes that affects the eyes. This medical condition is triggered by the damage of the blood vessels present in light-sensitive tissues present at the back of the eye in the retina. Initially, diabetic retinopathy might not show any symptoms, or there will be a very mild problem in vision. But, if untreated, this can lead to blindness. This medical condition can be developed in any person suffering from diabetes mellitus type-1 or diabetes mellitus type-2. However, you are more likely to develop eye-related complications if you have had diabetes for a long time. Also, you are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy if your blood sugar level is less controlled.

How Is The Retina Affected By Diabetes ?

The retina is the light detecting part of the eye situated at the back of the eye. The retina requires energy to sense light in the form of oxygen. Due to the blocked path of the blood flow, the amount of oxygen in the blood vessel of the retina is decreased. It causes an oxygen deficient state also known as ischemia. As a result, the retinal cells start to die, and the retina slowly weakens. Diabetes also harms the neurons of the retina. All these events together comprise diabetic retinopathy. Vision impairment caused by diabetic retinopathy may initially affect the focal vision. It occurs due to the filling of fluid in a part of the retina responsible for focal vision. If not treated, diabetic retinopathy can cause sudden loss of vision if there is bleeding inside the eye.

How Can The Diabetic Patients Prevent The Occurrence Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

In recent studies, it is recommended by the Indian Diabetes Association that people who have diabetic retinopathy should always keep their HbA1 level below 7% to prevent possible complications. This is because blood glucose level directly affects the blood vessels present in the eye, especially at the retina. That means that controlling blood sugar levels can help decrease the seriousness and occurrence of diabetic retinopathy.

How Can You Prevent The Loss Of Vision If You Have Retinopathy?

As we have discussed above, the damage to the blood vessels in the retina can lead to a decreased level of oxygen. Decreased oxygen levels in the eye can lead to the generation of a substance known as VEGF. This VEGF causes diabetic retinopathy. But, now we have medicine that binds with the VEGF and prevents harmful effects like diabetic retinopathy. These anti-VEGF medicines are directly administered as injection to the eyes. These can prevent the cause and also decreases the seriousness of diabetic retinopathy. In some high degree of infection where there is bleeding inside the eye, patients may need laser treatment to stop the bleeding.

How Can You Know Whether You Have Diabetic Retinopathy?

  • Diabetic retinopathy can be diagnosed with a comprehensive dilated exam. In this test, an eye drop is administered into the eyes, and then the doctor examines the eye for abnormality from both inside and outside.
  • Optical coherence tomography: A picture of the cross-section part of the eye is taken and then examined. This picture tells the thickness of the retina. In addition, it helps in detecting how much fluid has been leaked into retinal tissues (if any).


If the blood glucose level rises for a long time, it may rupture the fragile retinal blood vessels. It may result in oxygen deficient and eventually lead to a medical condition known as diabetic retinopathy. If not treated at a time, it can lead to loss of vision, but if treatment is started at the initial stage, vision can be corrected, and the patient can lead to a healthy life.

Ojas Eye Hospital A Center of Excellence for Contoura Vision, Femto Bladefree Lasik in Mumbai, India.