Diabetic Retinopathy

# conditions

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it is important to know that you are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This condition is a complication of diabetes caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the tissue at the back of the eyeball that has light-sensitive properties. While the early stages of this condition may only result in mild vision issues such as floating spots or blurred vision, it can ultimately lead to blindless. The less controlled blood sugar levels are and the longer you have been dealing with diabetes, the more likely you are to develop diabetic retinopathy.

Types of Diabetic Retinopathy

There are two main types of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative and proliferative. Understanding these types is crucial for effective management and treatment, helping to prevent vision loss and maintain eye health.

Background Diabetic Retinopathy

This type of diabetic retinopathy may occur after having diabetes for several years and may be totally asymptomatic (without recognizable symptoms). On examination, the retina is dotted with small hemorrhages and microaneurysms (dilated capillaries). Most patients do not describe any functional visual loss, but the microaneurysms may leak fluid or lipids into the central retina (macula) and cause macular edema. This causes blurry or distorted vision. Treatment involves applying a laser to the dilated capillaries to prevent further leakage and promote reabsorption of the edema.

Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

This type of diabetic retinopathy is less commonly encountered but is a more sight-threatening condition. In this case, abnormal blood vessels develop over the retina and optic nerve. These blood vessels are very frail and tend to bleed easily. Excessive bleeding (vitreous hemorrhage) leads to a sudden loss of vision. This hemorrhage may take months to reabsorb and can occasionally be associated with retinal detachments. A laser treatment directed at the peripheral retina often causes regression of these abnormal blood vessels before they bleed. Once a hemorrhage occurs, intraocular surgery may be required to remove the blood and repair the retina, if necessary, so that laser treatment may be applied.

Diabetic Retinopathy Diagnosis and Treatment

Working with an ophthalmologist specializing in diabetic retinopathy is key for early detection and effective treatment of this condition. Below, we are covering some of the services we offer at Sight360 for patients who may be dealing with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Eye Exam

For diabetics, regular eye exams are a must and are typically recommended on an annual basis. These exams focus on taking a close look at the retina to identify any evidence of damage. In order to see your retina and other structures within your eye clearly, the doctor will dilate your pupils with special eye drops. In some cases, a dye called fluorescein may be used to pinpoint leaks or blood vessel abnormalities.

Lifestyle Changes

A healthy lifestyle is one of the most important factors in managing diabetic retinopathy. First and foremost, stable blood sugar levels must be maintained through a healthy diet and exercise regimen. In addition, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol can help with controlling your blood pressure, while keeping an eye on your cholesterol is also imperative. Our doctors can discuss the necessary lifestyle changes with you to help you make all the right adjustments.

Intravitreal Injection Anti-VegF

To minimize the appearance of abnormal blood vessels and reduce leakage, your ophthalmologist may suggest intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VegF). This is a common and effective treatment, but multiple injections over time are often required to maintain the desired results.

Intravitreal Steroid Therapy

Steroids can also be injected into a substance in the eye called the vitreous in order to stop retina swelling. By improving how the retina functions, this treatment can help restore stable vision to patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Laser Retinopexy

To slow the progression of this condition and preserve the patient’s vision, laser retinopexy may be recommended. Also referred to as laser photocoagulation, this procedure makes use of a state-of-the-art laser to seal leakages and lower the potential for additional damage to the retina.

Retinal Laser Treatment

Another form of laser therapy, this treatment differs from laser retinopexy in that it takes a broader approach to reducing the potential for abnormal blood vessels to form and helps prevent retinal detachment.

Vitrectomy Surgery

In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, vitrectomy surgery may be necessary. During this procedure, a special instrument is used to carefully cut and suction the vitreous gel out of the eye, followed by removal of scar tissue or retinal detachment repair.

Turn to Sight360 for Diabetic Eye Disease Treatment

If you are at risk for diabetic retinopathy, prevent diabetic eye complications with help from the medical professionals at Sight360. Our comprehensive eye care services include state-of-the-art surgical treatment and personalized counselling. Learn more by scheduling your first appointment with us today.
Doctors who treat Diabetic Retinopathy
Jason Handza DO
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist, Vitreoretinal Surgeon

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