Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy
Patients with diabetes often struggle with secondary conditions that affect the rest of their body — including their eyesight. Keep reading to learn more about this common condition, risk factors, and the treatment options available at California Oculoplastics and Retina:
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels in the light-sensitive tissues that are located at the back of the eye. There are two stages of this condition:
Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR)
The first stage of diabetic retinopathy is NPDR, and it is common in many diabetic patients. At this early stage, blood vessels close off and the center of the retina (the macula) begins to swell. This lack of blood flow within the eye can also cause blurry vision.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (PDR)
As diabetic retinopathy progresses, it leads to PDR. This later and advanced form of the condition causes a patient’s retina to start growing new blood vessels. These new vessels are fragile and can cause bleeding in the middle of the eye (the vitreous). Diabetic retinopathy at this later stage can cause scar tissue, a detached retina, and most importantly — central and peripheral blindness.
It’s important to know that the early stages of this condition may result in no symptoms — making it more difficult to know you have an issue with your eyes. This makes proper eye care and visiting your eye doctor very important.
However, as the disease progresses, patients are most likely to experience these symptoms:
- Flashes and floaters.
- Blurry vision.
- Black or dark areas.
- Poor night vision.
- Seeing colors faded.
- Vision loss and blindness
The most important symptom to note in patients with late-stage diabetic retinopathy is blindness. Over time, patients risk losing their side and front vision if left untreated.
Patients at an Increased Risk
Most frequently, diabetic retinopathy is common in individuals with diabetes and those with high blood pressure. Studies show that 1 out of 3 people with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy. This means that patients with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes) are at the highest risk for developing this disease.
Additionally, patients that have had diabetes for an extensive period of time are more at risk to develop diabetic retinopathy as their disease progresses.
As with many conditions that form as a result of diabetes, the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to manage your diabetes. This means living a healthy lifestyle and seeing your doctor for regular A1C testing to monitor your levels.
Diabetic retinopathy, in general, is not a reversible condition — once there is damage done to the eyes, the best thing to do is to seek treatment to prevent further issues such as blindness.
A common treatment is medication that is injected directly into the eye, which can help control leaky retinal vessels. Beyond medication, patients with diabetic retinopathy are also often recommended for laser surgery or a retinal surgery called “pars plana vitrectomy.” At California Oculoplastics and Retina, during a pars plana vitrectomy, our surgeons will make a small cut into the eye and remove the vitreous gel, as well as any blood that has leaked into it. After removing the vitreous gel, the surgeon may also remove scar tissue from the retina.
Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment in Pasadena
The skilled, compassionate Retina team at California Oculoplastics and Retina is here to help you through diabetic retinopathy treatment and any issues you might have with your eyes. Our skilled physicians and surgeons have trained at the top programs in the country and have the expertise needed to bring some clarity to your unique situation.
If you believe you have diabetic retinopathy, contact our team today for vital treatment that can preserve your vision.