What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?0

Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, occurs when blood vessels in the retina change. Sometimes these vessels swell and leak fluid or even close off completely. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes. People who have diabetic retinopathy often don’t notice changes in their vision in the disease’s early stages. But as it progresses, diabetic retinopathy usually causes vision loss that in many cases cannot be reversed. As diabetic eye problems are left untreated, proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) can develop. Blocked blood vessels from ischemia can lead to the growth of new abnormal blood vessels on the retina (called neovascularization) which can damage the retina by causing wrinkling or retinal detachment. Neovascularization can even lead to glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve that carries images from your eye to your brain.

As the disease progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:

  • Spots, dots or cobweb-like dark strings floating in your vision (called floaters);
  • Blurred vision;
  • Vision that changes periodically from blurry to clear;
  • Blank or dark areas in your field of vision;
  • Poor night vision;
  • Colors appear washed out or different;
  • Vision loss.

 

People with diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to produce or use insulin effectively to control blood sugar levels.

The only way to detect diabetic retinopathy and to monitor its progression is through a comprehensive eye exam.

  • Visual Slit-lamp exam
  • Acuity test
  • Dilated exam
  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT)
  • Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to prevent it. Strict control of your blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss. Treatment usually won’t cure diabetic retinopathy nor does it usually restore normal vision, but it may slow the progression of vision loss. Without treatment, diabetic retinopathy progresses steadily from minimal to severe stages. With laser surgery for macular edema, tiny laser burns are applied near the macula to reduce fluid leakage. The main goal of treatment is to prevent further loss of vision by reducing the swelling of the macula. It is uncommon for people who have blurred vision from macular edema to recover normal vision, although some may experience partial improvement.

 

Vitrectomy surgery

Vitrectomy is a surgical procedure performed in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center operating room. It is often performed on an outpatient basis or with a short hospital stay. Either a local or general anesthetic may be used.

 

How does diabetic retinopathy cause vision loss?

What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy?

Does diabetic retinopathy have any symptoms?

What is a fluorescein angiogram?

Who is at risk for diabetic retinopathy?

What happens during laser treatment?

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