Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic Eye Evaluations And Treatment
Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder of blood sugar that can have many serious effects on the eye, including diabetic retinopathy. The chronically high blood sugar associated with diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults.

Poorly controlled blood sugar can cause fluctuations of vision due to changes in the focusing power of the eye. Cataracts, glaucoma and other eye disorders are more common in diabetic people. One of the most important complication of diabetes is retinal disease or retinopathy. This usually starts several years after the onset of diabetes so regular retinal examinations should be performed every 6 to 12 months.

Diabetes can cause decreased blood supply to the retina which results in the growth of abnormal new blood vessels or neovascularization. These vessels can rupture and bleed, leading to hemorrhage inside the eye which may then lead to scarring and other complications such as retinal detachment. Early treatment of neovascularization can reduce the risk of loss of vision.

Another retinal complication of diabetes is “macular edema” which describes fluid buildup in the central part of the retina causing decreased vision. Both of these types of retinopathies can initially be treated by in office laser therapy.

Neovascularization is treated by “pan-retinal photocoagulation” in which the peripheral retina is treated with hundreds of laser applications to preserve the central retina. Macular edema is treated with a “focal” laser in which a small number of low power laser spots are applied over leaking blood vessels in the center of the retina. It is important to realize that either type of treatment may not improve vision and both may reduce vision.

The goal in laser therapy is to reduce the risk of major vision loss. New less invasive treatments for macular edema are now available.

The best way to control diabetic eye disease is through prevention. This means good control of your blood sugar and regular eye examinations.