What Options Are Available to Recover Vision Loss as a Result of Diabetic Retinopathy?
One of the main complications of diabetes that affects the eyes is a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes results because the body is unable to properly process glucose. In general, having too much glucose in the bloodstream for a long period of time can damage muscles, tissues and blood vessels. High blood sugar from diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the tissue located at the back of the eye responsible for sending the images you see to the brain. If the cells in the retina begin to die, the retina cannot send a clear image to the brain, compromising vision. Early symptoms include eye floaters, blurred vision, dark areas of vision, loss of peripheral vision and difficulty perceiving colors. Diabetic retinopathy can cause vision loss and blindness as part of the more advanced symptoms.
What options are available to recover vision loss as a result of diabetic retinopathy? While there have been incredible advances in eye care technology and research in recent decades, including advanced treatments for diabetic retinopathy, there still is no cure for the condition. Treatments currently work to slow the progression of the disease and, best-case scenario, stop it altogether to preserve whatever quality of vision remains. Damage caused by diabetic retinopathy is usually permanent, but some patients may notice some of their vision is restored with treatment. As soon as you are aware you have diabetes, routine eye exams are necessary to monitor any vision changes so that early intervention can help protect your eyesight and clarity of vision. The primary treatment for diabetic retinopathy is to manage blood sugar levels. If the condition persists, the 2 most common treatments are intravitreal injections and laser surgery. Intravitreal injections involve injecting anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medication into the eye to stop the leaking of blood vessels and laser therapy, also called photocoagulation, involves sealing the blood vessels. Other options include steroids to reduce retinal swelling and vitrectomy, a surgery to remove scar tissue and cloudy fluid from inside the eye.
Prevention is the best-known course of action to stop diabetic retinopathy in its tracks. The longer you have diabetes, the greater the risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. At Associated Retina Consultants, our ophthalmologists and retinal specialists will help you understand the causes, symptoms and treatments of diabetic retinopathy. Even if you do not notice any changes to your vision, you can benefit from a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate details of the eye otherwise unseen without the expertise of your eye doctor. To schedule your exam, call our office at 602-242-4928 or schedule online at WEBSITE.