Can Diabetic Retinopathy Get Worse as Diabetes Improves?

Diabetic retinopathy, is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. It affects the light-sensitive tissues at the back of the eye. Over time, this damage can lead to vision problems and even blindness if left untreated. 

Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy are crucial for preserving vision and preventing complications. People with diabetes should prioritise regular eye exams and manage their condition effectively. 

 

What is diabetic retinopathy? 

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetic complication. It mainly affects the eye and damages the blood vessels. 

Damage to blood vessels in the retina is caused when the blood sugar levels are high, the blood vessels can swell and leak. Untreated diabetic retinopathy gradually becomes more serious and leads to blindness. 

 

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy

  • Blurry vision
  • Increased floaters visible to the eye
  • Sometimes vision will change from blurry to clear.
  • Blank or dark area in the field of vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Faded appearance of colour
  • Gradually loss of vision

 

Stages of diabetic retinopathy 

  • Background retinopathy 
  • Diabetic maculopathy 
  • Proliferative retinopathy 
  • Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy 

 

Causes of diabetic retinopathy 

Prolonged high blood glucose levels cause diabetic retinopathy. High blood sugar levels damage and weaken the blood vessels within the retina. This causes blood to leak from rupture and swelling of the retina. The retina becomes starved of oxygen and abnormal blood vessels start to grow. 

Now to answer the question: Can diabetic retinopathy get worse as diabetes improves?

The answer is Yes! 

In some patients, diabetic retinopathy can worsen when diabetes improves. This occurs because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the retina. It can take time to heal the damage. 

Even If the sugar levels are corrected, the damage done to the retina will continue to progress. 

Diabetic retinopathy might be worse even if blood sugar levels improve due to:

  • If the blood sugar levels are brought down very quickly, it can worsen diabetic retinopathy temporarily. Rapid changes in the sugar levels cause the blood vessels to swell and leak in the retina.
  • Prolonged high blood sugar levels cause inflammation in the retina. Even if the blood sugar levels are brought down, the inflammation can continue. This worsens the diabetic retinopathy. 

 

How to prevent diabetic retinopathy?

  • Have a yearly eye check-up by an optician. If you have any problems with your vision immediately see an ophthalmologist. 
  • Consult your diabetologist about controlling your blood glucose levels. 
  • Regularly check your blood pressure and kidney function. 
  • Get treatment early to prevent vision loss.
  • Control your cholesterol levels.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
 
 
 Kripa N,
Senior Clinical Dietitian, Simplyweight
 

 

The London Obesity & Endocrine Clinic specialises in Weight Loss and Endocrine disorders at the Specialist Weight Loss Centre in Chennai, India. We offer face to face and virtual consultations with our specialist clinical lead, Dr Rajeswaran, who has 25+ years experience in this field. We support people with Obesity related medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction, and Endocrine disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, PCOD, Hirsutism, Adrenal Dysfunction, Menopause, Pituitary problems and Sexual Dysfunction. Our services predominantly cover major cities in India including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune. We also offer aesthetic treatments including but not limited to: lymphatic drainage, deep tissue massage, Hydrafacial for treating skin conditions such as acne, sun damage and to help brighten the skin, CM Slim for muscle building and fat reduction, LED light therapy (including red light therapy) and much more. In addition,  we offer health checkups such as our Metabolic Master Health Checkup, diabetes health checkups, genetic testing and VO₂ Max testing for fitness and cardiorespiratory health. All of our aesthetics treatments and Bespoke Weight Management Plans are non-surgical solutions for weight loss and wellness. We have newly launched a Bespoke Wedding Weight Loss & Aesthetics Plan for brides & grooms to be. Get in touch to transform your life!

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