Diabetic retinopathy occurs when high blood-sugar
levels affect the functionality of blood vessels in the retina
(light-sensing cells in the eye). In early phases of the disease,
capillaries will leak blood or fluid. This can cause swelling in the
retina (which may result in blurring of central vision), and it can leak
into the vitreous humor (the fluid surrounding the retina) causing
floaters or obscuring vision.
During the beginning stage serious vision damage is
less likely, however, it can lead to a more advanced stage of the
disease, called proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this form, blood
vessels in the retina actually close off. New blood vessels grow to
make up for the lack of blood flow to the retina. The new blood vessels
unfortunately are accompanied by scarring and more leakage. This can
lead to serious vision loss and blindness.
Early Symptoms of Diabetic Retinopathy May Include:
The condition can typically be diagnosed by an
ophthalmologist during an eye exam, long before noticeable vision
symptoms occur and when more treatment options are still available.
Thus it is very important for those suffering from diabetes to have
regular eye exams, to monitor for diabetic retinopathy and other
Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
Treatments for diabetic retinopathy vary based upon
the nature and progression of the condition. The best way to preserve
good vision is to vigilantly control blood-sugar levels, lessening the
chance of retinopathy, and impeding its rate of advancement.
Once the disease is in advanced stages, the
ophthalmologist may choose a type of laser surgery, called pan-retinal
photocoagulation. This technique burns many tiny dots across the
retina, with the aim of sealing off leaky blood vessels and discouraging
further blood vessel growth. This surgery does not cure diabetic
retinopathy, but it can help to save remaining vision.
If the vitreous humor has become clouded by blood
leakage, there is a chance it may be naturally purged by the eye. If
clouding persists, however, a vitrectomy, a surgical removal of the
vitreous humor, may be necessary. The ophthalmologist replaces it with a
saline solution, and the eye naturally replenishes the vitreous fluid
over time. This procedure can restore vision that has been obscured in
the vitreous, however, any vision loss due to retinal damage or
detachment is not restored.
If you have diabetes or are
experiencing any symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, we encourage you to
contact us today to schedule a consultation.