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Diabetic Eye Disease


Diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy) can cause loss of vision and blindness.

If detected in its early stages, it can be effectively treated with a combination of improved blood sugar and blood pressure control, and medical/surgical treatment to the eye.

People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels which can interfere with the delivery of oxygen by red blood cells to the body.

Tissues that have high oxygen demand such as the eye and kidney may suffer as a consequence.

The tiny blood vessels in the eye swell, damaging the retina by leakage of fluid and blood.

The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. If the fluid leakage occurs at the macula, vision becomes impaired. Abnormal new blood vessels which form as a response to the lack of oxygen can bleed and cause sudden loss of vision. As the eye heals, scar tissue forms on the retina. Pulling by the scar tissue can cause tractional retinal detachment.

All people with diabetes are at risk of diabetic retinopathy. The risk is increased if blood sugar and blood pressure are not well controlled. The longer one has diabetes, the higher the risk of damage by diabetes.

Early diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy is the best way to prevent loss of vision. Modern medical and surgical technologies have reduced the number of people with serious damage to their vision.

If the retina becomes so badly damaged that sight is lost, no surgical or medical treatment can restore vision. We now know from clinical trials that fenofibrate taken orally can slow down the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

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