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What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

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.

What are the stages of diabetic retinopathy?

There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:

1. Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy: early stage

2. Moderate Non proliferative Retinopathy: middle stage

3. Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy: middle stage

4. Proliferative Retinopathy: advanced stage

Treatment

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.

What is a vitrectomy?

If blood has accumulated at the center of your eye, you may need what is called a vitrctomy 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 and vitrectomy effective in 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.