This diabetic complication occurs when high blood sugar levels begin to damage the blood vessels located in the retina. Symptoms often won’t appear right away, but left untreated and undetected, this complication can worsen and cause vision loss. It is the main cause of blindness in diabetics. It also tends to affect both eyes, making the concern for vision loss even greater.
Moderate Non proliferative Retinopathy: middle stage
Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy: middle stage
Proliferative Retinopathy: advanced stage
Are you at risk?
Anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can be at risk for diabetic retinopathy. This is why it is especially important for everyone who has diabetes to get a comprehensive eye exam annually, if not more often. At Quigley Eye Specialists, we can recommend treatment to prevent the advancement of this condition.
Be aware that if you are pregnant and have diabetes, this could put you at even greater risk, which is why we recommend every pregnant woman to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You may also be recommended for more frequent exams during your pregnancy.
In the first three stages, no treatment is needed unless you have macular edema (retinal swelling). To help prevent diabetic retinopathy from progressing, it’s important to keep your levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol monitored and under control as much as possible.
Laser surgery is used to treat proliferative retinopathy. This particular type of laser procedure is called scatter laser treatment. Multiple sets of treatment are sometimes required to complete treatment in full. Although some peripheral vision may be lost to this condition, laser treatment can help keep the rest of your sight intact. Night vision and color vision may be reduced slightly.
Having regular eye exams can help you catch this condition early before it causes any true damage to your vision.
Both focal and scatter laser treatment are available at Quigley Eye Specialists.
Does Diabetic Retinopathy have any symptoms?
This condition often has few to no early warning signs or symptoms, making it even more important to get regular eye exams!
Protecting your vision
If you have diabetes and know you are at high risk for developing this condition, you can proactively protect your vision by having regular comprehensive dilated eye exams at least once a year. Doing so can help you reduce your risk of total vision loss by 95%.
Monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels can also help prevent the onset, or slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy.
Developing proliferative retinopathy or macular edema can put you at a higher risk for vision loss.
For more information, your doctor at Quigley Eye Specialists will be happy to answer any of your questions during your next appointment.
What happens during laser treatment?
Before surgery begins, your Quigley eye specialist will keep you comfortable by dilating your pupil and using eye drops to numb you from any pain. The back of your eye may also be numbed if needed to prevent any discomfort from occurring.
During the procedure, the lights in the room will be dim. You will sit facing the laser machine, and a special lens will be held up to your eyes. During the procedure, you may see flashes of light.
You will need to be driven home after your treatment, and you will want to bring a pair of sunglasses to wear afterwards as your pupils will take time to go back to their normal state.
If blood has accumulated at the center of your eye, you may need what is called a vitrectomy to restore your sight. This is performed under local or general anesthesia. Some individuals will stay in the hospital overnight after this procedure. You’ll also need to wear an eye patch for several days, and in some cases, weeks to protect your eye. Because of this if both eyes need a vitrectomy, the procedure is done in one eye at a time, several weeks apart.
Are laser treatments & vitrectomy effective for restoring vision?
Luckily, the answer is yes! Timely and appropriate treatment can help reduce vision loss. While you may need treatment more than once to protect your sight, doing so allows you to have very small chances of going blind from diabetic retinopathy.