What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is a degenerative eye disease that is caused by both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Non-proliferative diabetic neuropathy damages blood vessels in the eye, which then causes swelling or bleeding (or both) in the retina. While there may not be any symptoms during the early stages, vision can start to blur if the swelling is severe.

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy develops when abnormal blood vessels appear in the eye and eventually bleed. The Diabetic Retinopathyproblem becomes serious
when the bleeding causes blood to build up in the back of the eye; this can lead to scarring and eventual detachment of the retina. If you have diabetes, you should have regular eye exams to test for diabetic retinopathy and other eye problems.

How is Diabetic Retinopathy Treated?

Treatment for diabetic retinopathy depends on the level of severity the disease is it. Tests such as angiography, tomography, and ultrasound will be performed to determine the disease’s level of severity and necessary and effective treatments. In many cases, especially with the non-proliferative type, do not need treatment. Instead, your doctor will simply observe the progression.

In cases of severe swelling, laser treatment is typically used to remove the abnormal blood vessels. There are also medication options that can be injected directly into the eye. In the most severe cases, surgery, such as a vitrectomy, may be required. This operation removes the fluid within the eye. The fluid is replaced with silicone oil or a gas bubble which maintains the position of the retina, therefore preserving vision.

It is important for diabetics to visit their eye doctor regularly so that issues such as diabetic retinopathy can be caught and treated early on before they become serious. While there is no cure for the disease, the prevention and treatments are simple enough when monitored. Simply following your doctor’s advice, using any medications properly, and following a healthy diet and exercise program can help prevent diabetic neuropathy. If you have diabetes of either type, be aware of the possibility and keep in good contact with your doctor and ophthalmologist to keep on top of the problem.