Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment options

Careful observation of the diabetic patient on a regular basis by an eye doctor is crucial in detecting Diabetic changes.  There often is no decrease in vision, though damage from diabetes may be occurring.

As with many diseases, the best treatment is prevention.  Strict control of your blood sugar will significantly reduce the long-term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.  Laser surgery is often recommended for people with Diabetic Macular Edema, Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, and Neovascular Glaucoma.

Laser surgery for Macular Edema

For Macular Edema, the laser is focused on the damaged retina near the macula to decrease fluid leakage.  Some may see laser spots near the center of their vision following treatment; usually fade with time, but may not disappear.  It is uncommon for people who have blurred vision from macular edema to recover normal vision, although some may experience partial improvement. The main goal of treatment is to prevent further loss of vision.

Laser surgery for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

For Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, the laser is focused on all parts of the retina except the macula.  This “pan retinal” photocoagulation treatment causes abnormal new vessels to shrink; often prevents them from growing again.  Treatment decreases the chance that vitreous bleeding or retinal distortion will occur.  Multiple laser treatments over time are sometimes necessary.

Vitrectomy Surgery

Vitrectomy Surgery for advanced Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy is needed when the vitreous (white, gel-like substance in middle of eye) fills with blood.  Performed in the operating room, this microsurgical procedure involves removing the blood-filled vitreous and replacing it with a clear solution.  This invasive surgery often prevents further bleeding by removing abnormal vessels that caused bleeding, by additionally treating the eye with laser treatment.

New Treatments 

For certain patients, Anti-VEGF treatment (Avastin and Lucentis) is a new choice in controlling Macular Edema, and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy.  Call our office to find out if this treatment option may be right for you.