Retinopathy is a potentially blinding disease that affects half of the American diabetic population. It is also the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness among working-age Americans. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by damage to the blood vessels located in the retina. The retina is light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, which changes light into nerve signals that are sent along the optic nerve to the brain. The eye cannot communicate with the brain without the retina, making vision virtually impossible.
Both people with type I and type II diabetes are at risk. Diabetic retinopathy could also occur in pregnant females with gestational diabetes.
Retinopathy can be detected during the following exams:
- Visual acuity test: this test measures how well you see at various distances.
- Pupil dilation: a test in which the pupils are widened to look for signs of retinopathy.
- Ophthalmoscopy: a test in which the retina is looked at through a magnifying lens.
- Tonometry: a standard test that determines the fluid pressure inside the eye.
- There are a few procedures that are effective in reducing the chances of this type of blindness. In fact these treatments are so effective that if caught before severe damage to the retina, there is a 90% chance of maintaining vision. Laser surgery is usually used to treat severe macular edema and retinopathy.
Researchers in California have found that the deterioration of the macular at the back of the retina, was correlated to low glutathione levels (British Journal of Ophthalmology). When taking into consideration other variables such as smoking, age, cardiovascular disease and multivitamin use, depletion of glutathione by itself was thought to be a major contributing factor behind macular degeneration.
Compounds such as selenium – a potent antioxidant and precursor of glutathione – vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc, manganese and magnesium are all important in eye maintenance.
There are currently research studies being conducted on both patients and lab animals to learn more about diabetic retinopathy. The best way to prevent this disease is by maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Take Changes in your diet and nutrition can significantly decrease diabetes related complications. Protect yourself from diabetic retinopathy by getting an eye checkup at least once a year.