Diabetic Retinopathy


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What is diabetic retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina due to poorly controlled diabetes.

What are the types of diabetic retinopathy?

  1. Nonproliferative Retinopathy. At this stage, blood vessels that nourish the retina become damaged, and leak blood into the retina. This can affect the vision
  2. Proliferative Retinopathy. At this advanced stage, growth of new blood vessels occurs. These can bleed, and severe vision loss and even blindness can result.

Macular edema. Fluid can leak into the center of the macula, the part of the eye where sharp, straight-ahead vision occurs. The fluid makes the macula swell, blurring vision.


Symptoms and Detection

What are the symptoms of proliferative retinopathy if bleeding occurs?
At first, you will see a few spots “floating” in your vision. If spots occur, see your eye care professional as soon as possible. If left untreated, proliferative retinopathy can cause severe vision loss and even blindness.


How is proliferative diabetic retinopathy treated?

Proliferative retinopathy is treated with laser surgery. We place 1,000 to 2,000 laser burns in the areas of the retina away from the macula, causing the abnormal blood vessels to shrink.
If the bleeding is severe, you may need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, blood is removed from the center of your eye.

How is a macular edema treated?

Macular edema can be treated with laser surgery or injecting a medicine in the eye.

  • The laser is called focal laser treatment. The laser closes the leaking vessels.
  • Injections in the eye have been found to close leaking blood vessels also. There are several medicine available, including Avastin, Lucentis, and Eylea. All of these are available and used routinely in our office.

Focal laser treatment and intraocular injections are often used together for the best results. We will talk to you about the best option for your disease.


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