Diabetic retinopathy is known to affect your eyes with different eye conditions. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, treatment may not be needed because eyesight is normal.
With the help of treatment, it can help prevent and delay eye damage from diabetes. Laser treatment, vitrectomy surgery, and medication are the most common method in treating diabetic retinopathy.
An ophthalmologist or a retina specialist can determine and evaluate the best treatment according to your needs and situation.
Two Types of Laser Treatment
Focal or grid laser photocoagulation aims directly at the affected area. This type of laser is specific to the blood vessels that have been damaged by the condition. The energy of the laser destroys the eye tissue that is damaged and clears the scars that lead to blind spots and vision loss.
Scatter (pan-retinal) laser photocoagulation is general because it can destroy some functional cells but it improves the blood supply in the retina which is important to maintain eyesight. The energy of the laser is applied to more than 1000 spots in the periphery of the retina but the central macula remains untouched.
Usually, with laser treatments, it does not improve the vision of those with diabetic retinopathy it just acts on prevention of vision loss. These kinds of procedures can be performed in an eye doctor’s office.
It is important to have someone to guide you after the laser procedure because you may have blurry vision for a day or two.
In cases of advanced diabetic retinopathy, the blood from damaged blood vessels can leak into the vitreous part of the eye. When this happens, it prevents the light to reach the retina which obscures the vision.
Vitrectomy is done by removing the cloudy vitreous and replacing it with clear fluid that allows the surgeon to see clearly and treat the damaged blood vessels.
It is usually done at a hospital or surgical facility. If you need a vitrectomy on both eyes, it will be done one at a time.
The recovery period takes several weeks and there are precautions with the activities that you will perform. Medications are given to address any discomfort that you may experience during this period.
Medication as Treatment
A protein called VEGF in the retina is known to be associated with diabetic retinopathy. VEGF allows the production of new blood vessels in the retina but they are fragile and they leak easily which can result in bleeding and swelling.
Anti-VEGF medications help to stop VEGF to trigger growth and reduce swelling. Corticosteroid injections also help to reduce the production of VEGF and reduce inflammation in the macula.
Anti-VEGF and corticosteroids can be injected or released slowly using an implant inside the eye. These medications can help in improving vision and slow the progression of vision loss.