People who have diabetes could suffer from an eye disease called diabetic retinopathy, especially those who have suffered from the disease for a significant number of years.
Diabetic retinopathy is the name for damage to the retina, at the back of the eye caused by diabetes. It is one of the complications of the disease. Dr Valentina Ideh , an opthamologist and Chief Medical Director, Prime Optical Eye Centre, Benin said someone who has suffered from diabetes for about 15 years without proper control could have diabetic retinopathy. “Once the glucose level keeps fluctuating up and down due to improper diet and drugs , the sufferer will have some problems such as diabetic retinoplasty,” she said.
She said it is a disease that has to do with uncontrolled glucose in the body which in the long run affects the small vessels located in the brain, eye, kidney and some parts of the body. The small vessels of the eye are composed of cells called basement lamina that protect the vessels so that blood does not leak out into the eye. The small cells are also supposed to hold the blood very well without leakage but due to the condition, as the blood goes along the vessels, it develop some problems in such a way that the blood leaks out of the vessels.
According to the ophthalmologist , once the vessels are damaged, the body will produce another one that is worse than the normal vessel, and “when the new vessel begins to leak blood into the eye again, they shrink up, pull the retina and cause a detachment on it,” she said.
She added that as the bleeding continues leaking in the retina, it could affect the vitreous part of the eye, and when the vitreous is affected, the vision can be lost. People who suffer from diabetic retinopathy, do not have symptoms in the initial stages, in the more advanced stages of the disease, however, patients may experience symptoms that include floaters, blurred vision, distortion, and progressive visual acuity loss.
To prevent the disease, Dr Ideh advised diabetes patients to eat the right foods meant for diabetic patients, control sugar level properly and see their doctor regularly. She advised diabetic patients to also have a yearly eye check to protect them from the disease and to detect it early saying early detection was key for easy treatment.
On treatment, Dr. Ideh said there were expensive injections which could be administered to the eye to help stop the bleeding. “The injection costs between N150,000 to N200,000 each and the sufferer need to take the injection for the first three to six months and subsequently depending on how it is being controlled by the drug. There is laser treatment as well as vitro retina surgery to also treat the disease,” she said
Dr Ideh also advised diabetes patients against saying they could control the disease or their sugar level with their feelings. “Some patients believe that they can control diabetes through feeling and as such do not need to see a doctor regularly. They say ‘I feel it when my sugar level is high,” she said.
Therefore, it’s important to avoid the foods listed below.
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. Sugary beverages are the worst drink choice for someone with diabetes.
- Trans Fats.
- White Bread, Pasta and Rice.
- Fruit-Flavored Yogurt.
- Sweetened Breakfast Cereals.
- Flavored Coffee Drinks.
- Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup.
- Dried Fruit.
Diabetics are to see their Doctor who would refer them to a dietitian for the best dietary advice and food regimen available to the patient depending on the locality where the patient lives. Following the diet plan can go a long way to prevent the occurence of diabetic retinopathy as well as other complications of diabetes.