One of the complications of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which is caused when high blood sugar levels damage the back of the eye, or retina. If left untreated and undiagnosed, the condition can further cause blindness in the patient. However, it takes several years for diabetic retinopathy to reach the stage where it can threaten the patient’s vision.
After reaching the advanced stage, when it poses a risk to your vision, diabetic retinopathy requires specific treatment. One of the best ways to diagnose it is through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, and the critical part of treatment is to control your diabetes. Experts suggest that the treatment of the condition usually depends on the type, severity, and rate of progression of the patient’s diabetic retinopathy. So let’s look at the treatment in two different stages.
Early Diabetic Retinopathy
A person with a mild or moderate condition may not need treatment right away. However, the ophthalmologist will determine when the patient needs treatment by closely monitoring the eyes. The person should work closely with his/her endocrinologist to determine if there are ways to improve diabetes management, as good blood sugar control slows the rate of progression when diabetic retinopathy is mild or moderate.
Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy
The patient requires prompt treatment if the diabetic retinopathy is proliferative. Depending on the specifications of the patient’s retina, the doctors suggest the following treatments.
- Injecting medicines into the eye
Medications for vascular endothelial growth are injected into the vitreous humor of the eye, using local anesthesia. They are growth factor inhibitors that may cause minor discomfort, such as pain, tearing, or a burning sensation. These drugs help stop the growth of new blood vessels and reduce fluid buildup.
This is a laser treatment also known as focal laser treatment. It can stop or reduce the leakage of blood and fluid into the eye. During this procedure, laser burns treat the leaks of abnormal blood vessels.
- Panretinal Photocoagulation
Also known as scatter laser treatment, this treatment can reduce the abnormal blood vessels. The scattered laser burns treat the areas of the retina away from the macula. The abnormal new blood vessels shrink and scar from the burns.
This involves using a small incision to remove blood from the vitreous humor as well as scar tissue pulling on the retina. This procedure is performed using local or general anesthesia.
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