Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in the retina are compromised by long-term elevations in blood sugar.  Sometimes these vessels leak fluid or even close off completely.  In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina and can bleed into the eye.

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 can cause vision loss that may not be reversible unless it is caught early.

Detection and Treatment

The only way to detect diabetic retinopathy and to monitor its progression is through a comprehensive eye exam, at least on a yearly basis.  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 completely cure diabetic retinopathy, nor does it usually restore normal vision, but it will slow the progression of vision loss.  Without treatment, the disease can progress from minimal to more severe stages.

Laser treatment in the office setting has been a mainstay of treatment for diabetic retinopathy.  Injections of medications into the eye and vitrectomy surgery in an operating room may be necessary for more advanced cases.

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