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Diabetic retinopathy
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Diabetic retinopathy

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DIABETES AND ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

Diabetes Complications

Retinopathy is the medical term for damage to the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish the retina, the tissue at the back of your eye that captures light and relays information to your brain. These blood vessels are often affected by the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes.

Complications

The abnormal growth of new blood vessels in proliferative diabetic retinopathy doesn't resupply the retina with a normal blood flow. Instead, these vessels may produce other complications:

  • Vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels may bleed (hemorrhage) into the vitreous. If the amount of bleeding is small, you might see only a few dark spots or floaters. In more severe cases, blood can completely fill the vitreous cavity and block all of your vision. Vitreous hemorrhage by itself usually doesn't cause permanent vision loss. The blood often clears from the eye initially — within a few weeks or months — and your vision may return to its previous clarity, unless your retina is damaged.

  • Traction retinal detachment. The new blood vessels, if not stopped early in their development, are accompanied by the growth of scar tissue. The scar tissue can shrink, which pulls the retina away from the back wall of the eye. This causes blank or blurred areas in your field of vision, even complete loss of vision in severe cases.

  • Neovascular glaucoma. The proliferation of blood vessels in the retina and vitreous may be accompanied by the growth of abnormal new blood vessels on the iris. This can interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of your eye and cause pressure in your eye to build up. The result is neovascular glaucoma, a serious complication of diabetic retinopathy that can cause damage to your optic nerve and even destroy your eye.

 

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:15 AM