According to the French Federation of Diabetics, nearly 50% of people with type 2 diabetes develop some form of retinopathy. This high prevalence is explained by the fact that chronic hyperglycemia tends to progressively weaken the walls of the capillary vessels which innervate the eye. Little by little, the vessels that supply the retina will burst, until the very mechanism of sight is altered. To compensate, the eye will make new ones that will be even more fragile. In medical parlance, we speak of “neo-vessels”.
The problem is, diabetic retinopathy is a disease that sets in silently. It only reveals its first clinical manifestations when the damage caused is already well advanced. The bursting of the retinal vessels will cause macular edema – located in the center of the retina – which will insidiously reduce the patient’s visual acuity. The letters are distorted. Dark spots appear. In the absence of appropriate care, the risk of retinal detachment increases, which can ultimately lead to permanent loss of sight.
It is to fight against the installation of this sneaky complication that diabetologists recommend regular ophthalmologic monitoring of their patients. It is indeed essential that diabetic retinopathy be detected early. Good blood sugar balancing and a healthy lifestyle are effective preventive measures. But, when the ocular involvement proliferates, more specific management must be undertaken quickly, so as to stop the necrosis of the various regions of the retina. Panretinal photocoagulation (PPR) remains the main treatment for retinopathy today.
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