Diabetic Retinopathy affects approximately 200,000 people annually in the US. Nonetheless, it is still a fairly common malady for diabetics and regular eye exams should be a part of their overall treatment.
The condition is caused when high blood sugar levels cause damage to blood vessels in the eye's retina. The blood vessels either swell and leak or close blocking circulation. Overtime, the condition causes loss of vision.
If you are diabetic, scheduling a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year to catch it early can help greatly to protect your vision. In the course of our examination, if we see signs you may have moderate to severe diabetic retinopathy or DME, we then perform a test called a fluorescein angiogram allowing us to see pictures of the blood vessels in your retina and plan a course of treatment.
Diabetic Retinopathy & DME Treatment
At the first signs of possible diabetic retinopathy, it's generally prudent to have a dilated eye exam performed every 2 to 4 months. It is especially important to keep your cholesterol, blood sugar and pressure under control.
As the disease progresses, there are graduated methods of treatment depending on progression:
Anti-VEGF drugs and corticosteroid injections can slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy.
Laser treatment has been proven to be very effective in reducing swelling in the retina. Lasers are ideal for making blood vessels shrink or stop leaking.
A surgery procedure called a vitrectomy may be necessary for cases where there is excessive retinal bleeding or if there is a lot of eye scarring present.