Diabetic retinopathy, the complication that we cannot stop seeing
When we talk about complications of diabetes, it is inevitable to think about damage to the eyes or sight, and it is no wonder since diabetic retinopathy affects more than a third of all people living with diabetes (IDF 2020), It is one of the main causes of blindness in the world and is the leading cause of blindness or vision loss in adults of productive age, making it a priority problem for all of us who care for diabetes.
Although all people living with diabetes can present this complication, the risk increases when there is no adequate control of glucose levels and of course the longer the time in a situation of uncontrolled greater risk for the development of this complication, therefore that the best way to prevent it is by maintaining glucose levels within targets and minimizing the glycemic variability characteristic of uncontrolled diabetes, coupled with adequate levels of blood pressure and blood lipids, factors also involved in the development of retinopathy.
What is diabetic retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs as a direct result of maintaining chronically high glucose levels, causing damage to the capillaries or small blood vessels of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue located in the part back of the eye, generating small hemorrhages and capillary obstruction, which over time will lead to gradual loss of vision and eventually blindness. Without losing sight of the existence of other eye diseases or disorders derived from uncontrolled diabetes such as: cataracts, glaucoma, loss of visual focus and double vision.
How do I know if I have retinopathy?
Retinopathy is often asymptomatic in its initial stages, so the only way to know the condition of the retina or if it is developing this complication and have an early detection, is through periodic ophthalmological examinations, at least once a year, in which a fundus study is performed, which is specific for the diagnosis of retinopathy in which it is necessary to dilate the pupil.
Some patients may see small dark spots (capillary hemorrhages) that overlap the visual field as small particles that appear to “float” in front of the person. Sometimes the spots disappear just like this without treatment, which downplays the problem and allows its evolution, leading to the inevitable gradual loss of vision.
Without replacing the essential ophthalmological examination for timely detection, there are methods to calculate the risk of developing the disease based on an assessment of the risk factors associated with its development.
Risk calculation for the development of retinopathy in Social Diabetes with RetinaRisk
As you already know, concerned about the health and quality of life of people living with diabetes, at SocialDiabetes we always seek continuous improvement of our app, with tools and functionalities that allow better management and control of your diabetes. That is why we have made an alliance with RetinaRisk, an app that allows calculating the personalized risk for the development of diabetic retinopathy, through an algorithm that calculates risk based on specific data and indices, such as glycated hemoglobin (A1C), the sex of the person, year of debut and the blood pressure value, which has been clinically validated.
By estimating the risk of diabetic eye disease and influencing early detection of diabetic retinopathy, integrating RetinaRisk into SocialDiabetes can play a critical role in preventing complications and enabling users to understand the key underlying risk factors, and what lifestyle changes can reduce risk while generating efficiency and substantial savings in health care costs.
You can find this function from November 14 of this year, on the occasion of commemorating World Diabetes Day, a day of awareness about the disease, its care and complications. You just have to go to the main menu (hamburger menu), click on “Retinopathy test” and you can acquire one and up to 12 risk calculations for retinopathy, having different payment options, completely safe.
Please, bear in mind that our solution is one more tool to support the decision and gives a risk prediction that does not replace the diagnosis and clinical evaluation of your doctor, always remember to consult with your doctor.
What to do when diagnosed with retinopathy?
If, unfortunately, you are already faced with the diagnosis of retinopathy, there is still much to do, since rigorous control of diabetes and early detection of eye disease help to slow down the progression of the disease, and therefore visual impairment and blindness, both expensive and debilitating, so once diagnosed it is essential to maintain periodic ophthalmological examinations, in this case every six months, strict glycemic control, adequate treatment according to medical evaluation, and of course a healthy lifestyle in general .
Remember that the key to preventing chronic complications is self-care and proper decision-making that you make on a daily basis, based on knowledge and / or education in diabetes, always guided by the recommendations of health professionals, having Social Diabetes as ally
International Diabetes Federation and The Fred Hollows Foundation. Diabetes and Eye Health: A Guide for Health Professionals. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2015. www.idf.org/eyecare