Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that weakens the blood vessels that supply nourishment to the retina (the light-sensitive lining in the back of the eye where vision is focused). When these weak vessels leak, swell or develop thin branches, vision loss occurs. Laser surgery is the treatment of choice.
Focal laser coagulation may be recommended for patients with clinically significant macular edema (CSME) – swelling of the central retina, called the macula. The laser coagulates, or dries up, the fluid that is causing the swelling. A similar procedure called scatter laser photocoagulation (also known as pan-retinal photocoagulation or PRP) destroys abnormal blood vessel growth in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). If there is blood in the eye obscuring the laser, a vitrectomy (Vitreoretinal surgery) may be performed to drain the blood in preparation for photocoagulation.
Fortunately, diabetic retinopathy is preventable. People with diabetes are most susceptible to developing it, but your risk is reduced if you follow your prescribed diet and medications, exercise regularly, control your blood pressure, and avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Regular eye exams are an integral part of making sure your eyes are healthy.
Although damage caused by diabetic retinopathy cannot be corrected, patients diagnosed with the condition can be treated to slow its progression and prevent further vision loss.
Treatment modalities include laser and surgical procedures: