This is a very common tactic employed by patients – I call it the ‘ostrich’ approach. Stick your head in the sand and pretend the problem is not there or will not affect you or will somehow become better with time! Unfortunately, the problem only gets aggravated if not tackled in time. The diabetic retinopathy (affection of the retina) which only consisted of a few haemorrhages and/or cholesterol deposits on the surface of the retina – called background diabetic retinopathy can gradually lead to the formation of new, fragile tiny blood vessels in the retina. These repeatedly burst, giving rise to fresh haemorrhages. The vessels can ultimately burst into the jelly in front of the retina, giving rise to a vitreous haemorrhage, with tremendous drop in vision. Worse still, formation of scar tissue by nature may cause a pull or traction on the retina causing a traction retinal detachment. Proliferation of these new vessels on the retina or into the vitreous is known (quite obviously) as proliferative vitreo-retinopathy. This condition requires complicated (and therefore expensive!) vitreoretinal surgery, carrying a much-reduced visual prognosis. In advanced cases, permanent blindness can result.
The simple fact is, in most cases, with timely intervention during the background diabetic retinopathy stage, progression of the disease to the next stage can be arrested or at least markedly delayed. All it takes is for the diabetic patient to visit his eye doctor at regular intervals as advised, so that the retina can be examined, instead of simply going once a year to his neighbourhood optician for a new pair of glasses.