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diabatic ratinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that affects the retina. It is one of the commonest causes of blindness in people between the ages of 30-65, and 12% of people who are each year registered blind and partially sighted have diabetic eye disease. At any one time up to 10% of people with diabetes will have retinopathy requiring medical follow up or treatment. Diabetic Retinopathy can be caused by fluctuations in blood sugar and results in changes to the focusing of the eye's crystalline lens and temporary visual blurring, particularly if diabetic control is poor. Diabetes can also cause cataracts in young people or accelerate the development of cataract in older people. Retinopathy is usually classified according to its severity and may differ in both eyes. Tight control of diabetes can reduce the risk of retinopathy by 60% in type I (insulin dependent) and 40% in type II (non-insulin dependent) and will also reduce the risk of other diabetic complications.

Although the majority of people who have had diabetes for long enough will have some degree of retinopathy, regular eye checks will enable early diagnosis and treatment. When people first develop diabetic retinopathy they have very few or no symptoms and if diagnosed at this early stage it is treatable. Consequently, it is important for diabetics to have regular eye tests. People with insulin dependent diabetes must have their eyes examined at diagnosis, again after they have had diabetes for 4 years and then regularly. People with non-insulin dependent diabetes should have an eye examination at diagnosis and yearly thereafter by their diabetic specialist, general physician, ophthalmologist or optician.
Diabetic retinopathy is usually treated with laser treatment and in some cases surgery.
Laser Treatment
Diabetic retinopathy is initially treated with lasers, a procedure known as photocoagulation. This treatment is designed to maintain vision, not improve it, and is highly effective in most patients. Blindness is prevented in at least one eye of 80-90% of cases.

The laser is a low-energy, highly concentrated light that is beamed through the special lens into the eye. The light passes freely through the transparent structures of the eye and continues on through the transparent layers of the retina. The light is stopped by the pigment layer of the retina, where it is converted into heat. The heat coagulates the retinal layers. This helps to preserve vision by preventing future bleeding and new blood vessel formation. Shrinkage of swollen retina is helped in some cases and prevents further deterioration of vision.

Immediately after treatment you will be completely dazzled by light and Later vision may still be temporarily blurred. Changes may occur in colour vision, night vision and in the field of vision. On very rare occasions vision can be made worse. It is rare for the effect on colour vision to be a problem.

After the laser treatment progress of the disease is controlled, but may require future laser treatment. Regular eye checks are essential.
In some patients where there has been recurrent bleeding and the vitreous is clouded with blood or a retinal detachment is present, a vitrectomy operation may be necessary. In this surgical procedure, the blood and scar tissue is removed from the centre of the eye and replaced with a clear artificial solution. Following vitrectomy, patients can often see well enough to move around on their own.

However, the improvement in vision can be limited and sight may take weeks or even months to improve. In some cases of severe diabetic retinopathy a successful procedure means stabilizing the vision to prevent it getting worse, not creating an improvement.