When you are diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will typically instruct you to manage your blood sugar and follow the prescribed diet in order to reduce your risk of diabetic side effects, one of which is diabetic retinopathy. Unfortunately, though, these diabetic side effects can sometimes arise even if you have done a decent job of caring for yourself over the years. Hearing that you have diabetic retinopathy is scary and will probably have you questioning where you went wrong. But that's not what's really important at this stage. What is important is that you seek treatment. But what does treatment for diabetic retinopathy involve?
Focal Laser Treatment
Diabetic retinopathy involves damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Due to elevated blood sugar levels, these blood vessels become weak and leaky. One treatment, then, involves using a laser to seal the leaky parts of the blood vessel walls. This should keep additional fluid from leaking into your eye, slowing or stopping the progression of your diabetic retinopathy. The treatment is done while you are awake, but while your eyes are numb. You'll be able to return home after the treatment and can return to most normal activities within a few days.
In more serious cases where there is a lot of fluid accumulated in your retina already, your eye doctor may want to perform a procedure called a vitrectomy. Basically, they will make a tiny hole in your eye and suck out the extra fluid. They may also snip away some retinal scar tissue at the same time. This procedure is a little more involved than a focal laser treatment, and it is often done under general anesthesia in a hospital.
VEGF Inhibitor Injections
A class of medications called VEGF inhibitors has been developed for the management of diabetic retinopathy. VEGF stands for vascular endothelial growth factor, a substance your body releases in response to the leaky blood vessels in your retina. VEGF triggers the retina to grow new blood vessels, a process that ends up impeding your vision. VEGF inhibitors block the action of VEGF, therefore preventing new blood vessels from forming. VEGF has to be injected directly into the eye by an eye doctor. It is often administered in conjunction with a focal laser treatment.
Now that you have a better idea of how diabetic retinopathy is treated, you can move forward with confidence. Your eye doctor can examine your eyes, run more tests, and let you know which treatment approach they think is best for you.
If you have more questions, contact a company like Northwest Ophthalmology.