ABOUT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY
WHAT IS DIABETIC RETINOPTHY?
Diabetes affects the eyes in numerous ways. The most devastating being diabetic retinopathy. The retina is very metabolically active and relies on a good blood supply to ensure enough oxygen is available to allow normal function.
Diabetes causes damage to the inner layers of the blood vessels all over the body. This is especially evident in the retina. Blood vessels start to close down and retinal bleeds and swelling ensue. This leads to progressive visual decline.
Severe cases lead to new blood vessel growth in the eye, called proliferative retinopathy. These new vessels tear and bleed easily, causing dense bleeds and visual loss. They can also lead to retinal detachments, strokes in the eye and even complete blindness.
It is very important that all diabetics see an ophthalmologist once a year to look for diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with argon laser therapy, intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF agents or corticosteroids. Severe cases may need retinal surgery to rehabilitate the eye.
WHY INJECTIONS IN THE EYE?
Intravitreal injections have become indispensable in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Medication is delivered straight into the eye, maximizing the local effect and minimizing the systemic effect.
These injections last between 4 and 12 weeks, they may be repeated numerous times to get a stable retina. Injections are often used in combination with retinal laser therapy to ensure long lasting results.
IS LASER FOR YOU?
Laser can be used to treat areas of the retina that are swollen or hypoxic. This reduces the oxygen needs of the remaining healthy retina and also reduces retinal swelling. A well timed and thorough laser treatment may prevent the need for retinal surgery in the future.
Retinal laser therapy can be uncomfortable during the treatment, but the long term benefit makes it worth while. Your peripheral vision and night vision may be reduced following laser therapy for diabetes.