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Diabetic Retinopathy

How do you treat diabetic retinopathy?

The best treatment is to prevent the development of retinopathy as much as possible. Strict control of blood sugar will significantly reduce the long term risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.

When diabetic retinopathy is present, treatment consists of laser surgery, intravitreal injections and in some cases, vitrectomy surgery.

Laser is often recommended for people with macular edema, PDR, and neovascular glaucoma. The types of laser procedures used are called focal laser photocoagulation and panretinal photocoagulation.

Multiple laser treatments over time are sometimes necessary. Laser surgery does not cure diabetic retinopathy and does not always prevent further loss of vision.

In certain cases, the eye doctor may choose to treat the patient with macular edema with injections into eye. These special shots may be steroids or other medications. They are designed to shrink the swelling of the macula.

In advanced PDR, when there is a vitreous hemorrhage, the doctor may recommend a vitrectomy if the blood does not clear on its own after a certain amount of time.

Vitrectomy often prevents further bleeding by removing the abnormal vessels that caused the bleeding. If the retina is detached, it can be repaired during the vitrectomy surgery. Surgery should usually be done early becuase macular distortion or traction retinal detachment will cause permanent visual loss. The longer the macula is distorted or out of place, the more serious the vision loss will be.

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