Retinopathy applies to any damage to the blood vessels of the retina. An eye examination at the back of the eye enables a medical professional to look carefully at a sample of blood vessels and detect early signs of complications linked to diabetes or high blood pressure and other conditions. This eye disease comes in two forms: diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa.
1. DIEBATIC RETINOPHAY
This form of retinopathy, caused by diabetes, is the most common cause of blindness in adults under 50 years. It presents itself in the form of lesions on the retinal capillaries that cause hemorrhages and retinal bleeding. There are several evolutions in diabetic retinopathy:
– EMERGING RETINOPATHY
Emerging retinopathy causes no functional symptoms but regular ophthalmologic monitoring is highly recommended,
– MORE ADVANCED RETINOPATHY
Advanced retinopathy can cause a loss in visual acuity impacting central vision due to macular bleeding. At this stage, people mostly notice difficulties in near vision with a permanent sensation of blurred vision. With intermediate vision, activities requiring precision – sewing, shaving, cooking… – become difficult,
– IN ADVANCED STAGES: DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
Diabetic retinopathy causes a significant decrease in visual acuity, increased sensitivity to light and a field of vision impacted by scattered scotoma (blind spots) due to retinal hemorrhages. This significantly impairs an individual’s vision.
2. RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA
Retinitis pigmentosa most often begins between the ages of 18 and 30, with increased prevalence between 40 and 50 years.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disease that results in dysfunction of the pigment epithelium and degeneration of the photoreceptors. Vision is disturbed by pigment forming in the eyes and can worsen until a person becomes blind. The field of vision is gradually reduced to become “tunnel vision”. The patient retains his/her central vision but loses peripheral vision. So far, no treatment is known although encouraging research possibilities are emerging.