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What Are The Treatment Options For Diabetic Retinopathy?
The type of treatment that will be recommended for your condition will depend on how advanced your diabetic retinopathy is.
Early diabetic retinopathy
In the early stages, treatment may not be necessary as your doctor might opt to control the progression of diabetic retinopathy by bringing your diabetes under control. Your doctor might opt to send you to an endocrinologist who will be able to give you expert advice on managing your diabetes. In the early to intermediate stages of diabetic eyes, effectively managing your diabetes and keeping your blood sugar levels under control can alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the condition.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy
In the advanced stages of diabetic eyes, surgical treatment is usually the best resort to save the residual vision. The type of surgery recommended will depend on the specifics of your condition and what part of the eye is affected by diabetic retinopathy. Some treatment options include:
Focal Laser Treatment
Focal laser treatment is used to treat the leakage of blood or fluid into the eye. During a procedure, lasers treat the affected blood vessels by repairing damage and stopping leaks. The process is sometimes known as photocoagulation and can usually be completed in one session. You will experience blurred vision for a few days after a focal laser treatment. There are also some side effects associated with the procedure such as seeing spots. These side effects gradually clear up within two to three weeks. If the fluid that has leaked into your eye has affected the macula and caused it to swell, surgical intervention may not be able to restore your vision to normal, though it can help improve vision in some cases. Therefore it is important to go for regular eye exams, as early detection can help restore and save your vision.
Scatter laser treatment
Scatter laser treatment or panretinal photocoagulation, works by shrinking the swollen or abnormal blood vessels. During a scatter laser procedure, the areas of the retina that are away from the central macula, are treated with lasers. This causes the blood vessels beneath the surface to shrink. Like focal laser treatment, you will experience blurred vision for a day or two after a session and usually multiple sessions are required. Some people do experience a loss of peripheral vision, a difficulty in seeing colours and also experience poor night vision after a scatter laser procedure.
A vitrectomy is a more intrusive surgical procedure as compared to laser treatment. This involves removing blood or other deposits from the vitreous which is the clear jelly-like substance in the middle of the eye. During a vitrectomy, the vitreous is removed and replaced with a salt solution to help your eye maintain its shape. The recovery period is longer than with laser treatment, you will need to wear an eye patch and use medicated eye drops for a few weeks. A vitrectomy is done on one eye at a time.
Surgical intervention can help alleviate symptoms and slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy. It is important to recognise that managing diabetes is a lifelong process and surgery is not a cure for diabetic retinopathy. Post-surgery, it will still be necessary to monitor your diabetes and to go for regular eye exams.
There is also promising research being done into preventing the onset of diabetic eyes, this includes medication that prevents the vessels in the eye from swelling and leaking. For a comprehensive eye test for diabetic retinopathy, make an appointment with our eye specialist today!
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