Retinopathy - diabetic; Photocoagulation - retina
To prevent diabetic retinopathy:
People with the earlier form (nonproliferative) of diabetic retinopathy may not need treatment. However, they should be closely followed by an eye doctor who is trained to treat diabetic retinopathy.
Treatment usually does not reverse damage that has already occurred. However, it can help keep the disease from getting worse. Once your eye doctor notices new blood vessels growing in your retina (neovascularization) or you develop macular edema, treatment is usually needed.
Several procedures or surgeries are the main treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
Laser eye surgery creates small burns in the retina where there are abnormal blood vessels. This process is called photocoagulation. It is used to keep vessels from leaking or to get rid of abnormal, fragile vessels.
A surgical procedure called vitrectomy is used when there is bleeding (hemorrhage) into the eye. It may also be used to repair retinal detachment.
Drugs that prevent abnormal blood vessels from growing, and corticosteroids injected into the eyeball are being investigated as new treatments for diabetic retinopathy.
If you cannot see well:
American Diabetes Association -
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse -
Prevent Blindness America -
You can improve your outcome by keeping good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure.
Treatments can reduce vision loss. They do not cure diabetic retinopathy or reverse the changes that have already occurred.
Once proliferative retinopathy occurs, there is always a risk for bleeding. You will need to be monitored regularly, and you may need more treatment.
Other problems that may develop are:
Call for an appointment with an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) if you have diabetes and you have not seen an ophthalmologist in the past year.
Call your doctor if any of the following symptoms are new or are becoming worse:
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes--2011. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jan;34 Suppl 1:S11-61.
O'Doherty M, Dooley I, Hickey-Dwyer M. Interventions for diabetic macular oedema: a systematic review of the literature. Br J Opthalmol. 2008;92:1581-1590.
Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical Research Network (DRCR.net), Beck RW, Edwards AR, Aiello LP, Bressler NM, Ferris F, Glassman AR, et al. Three-year follow-up of a randomized trial comparing focal/grid photocoagulation and intravitreal triamcinolone for diabetic macular edema. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009;127:245-251.
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