Diabetic retinopathy, sometimes called DM retinopathy, occurs when the blood vessels in your retina (the focusing surface at the back of your eye) are damaged due to high blood sugar levels.
In its later stages, diabetic retinopathy can seriously affect your sight and may even cause blindness.
Your ophthalmologist can tell you if you have diabetic retinopathy by using a special camera to take a photograph of the back of your eye. You should make an appointment to have this test as soon as you are diagnosed with diabetes; and at least every two years after that.
There are many treatments for diabetic retinopathy. Prevention is an important part of treating this condition. You can take steps to preserve your vision by closely monitoring and controlling your blood sugar and blood pressure.
Follow your eye care professional’s instructions and come in for regular eye exams. Individuals with diabetic retinopathy may benefit from laser surgery. This approach controls and shrinks leaking blood vessels, and prevents the growth of new blood vessels.
While laser treatment does not cure diabetic retinopathy, it can slow or halt the progression of the disease. The vitreous can also become clouded with blood, and a surgeon may need to drain the clouded vitreous and replace it with a clear saline solution. Some patients are unresponsive to conventional laser treatments. In these cases, special injections may help to decrease the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
While there is no cure, diabetic retinopathy does not have to lead to serious vision problems. Control your blood sugar. Because of improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, you can preserve your sight.
If you do have diabetic retinopathy, your treatment will depend on the stage of the disease.
In the early stages: diabetic retinopathy needs regular monitoring rather than treatment. Laser (laser retinal photocoagulation) is the principal treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
Maculopathy: laser treatment for maculopathy is used to deal with leaks from blood vessels. However, diffuse diabetic maculopathy may respond relatively poorly to laser treatment and injections into the eye may be more effective at stabilising or improving vision on their own or in combination with laser treatment.
Using a laser, the doctor treats the peripheral retina, where diabetic changes are causing damage. The macula, which is responsible for most of our vision, especially central vision, is not treated.
The procedure causes abnormal blood vessels to shrink and scar and prevents further growth of new blood vessels. However, more than one PRP procedure may be necessary. After the procedure, side vision may diminish somewhat, and night vision may be reduced.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy: can be treated with laser to remove the stimulus for the growth of new blood vessels (which replace the blocked and damaged vessels); alongside other new treatments which can provide useful adjuncts to stabilise vision.
Using a laser, the doctor treats the peripheral retina, where diabetic changes are causing damage. The macula, which is responsible for most of our vision, especially central vision, is not treated. The procedure causes abnormal blood vessels to shrink and scar and prevents further growth of new blood vessels. However, more than one PRP procedure may be necessary. After the procedure, side vision may diminish somewhat, and night vision may be reduced.
It is possible that central vision may be blurry for a few weeks.
Remember that diabetes continues to affect eyesight, and can lead to blindness if left untreated.
It is important to see your eye care professional regularly. With early detection, and modern treatment options, the threat of vision loss from proliferative diabetic retinopathy is far less than ever before.
Treating diabetic retinopathy early can yield fantastic results, with as many as 95 percent of patients avoiding substantial vision loss if they are treated in time. Hence it is so important to have regular eye exams to check for diabetic retinopathy.
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Exeter Eye is a specialist ophthalmic eye clinic treating all eye conditions and offering the very best in patient care and comfort. We always ensure we fully understand your condition and lifestyle before identifying your treatment options and then help you choose the best one for you.