Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
The longer a person suffers from diabetes, the greater the chance he or she has for developing diabetic eye disease. In fact, 80% of patients who have diabetes will develop eye problems after 10 or more years.
Unfortunately, up to 50% of diabetics remain undiagnosed and untreated, and about 30% of patients already have their eyes affected by the time they are first diagnosed with diabetes.
The current international guidelines recommend an eye exam at least once a year for every diabetic patient to screen for diabetic retinopathy since treatments are most effective when used early.
At AEC, we can prevent up to 90% of cases of blindness by following the latest American and international treatment protocols for diabetic retinopathy with medications, injections, laser surgery, and vitrectomy surgery.
What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
If you have diabetes mellitus, your body does not use and store glucose properly. Over time, diabetes can damage blood vessels in the retina, the nerve layer at the back of the eye that senses light and helps to send images to the brain. The damage to retinal vessels is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.
Normal Retina Diabetic Retinopathy
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)
- is an early stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, tiny blood vessels within the retina leak blood or fluid. The leaking fluid causes the retina to swell or to form deposits called exudates.
- is swelling or thickening of the macula, a small area in the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. The swelling is caused by fluid leaking from retinal blood vessels. It is the most common cause of visual loss in diabetes. Injection of medication and lasers can be used to treat macular edema. Newer treatments are being investigated.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)
- occurs in advanced diabetes, where the retinal blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, the retina grows new, fragile blood vessels.
- occurs when the new abnormal blood vessels rupture and bleed into the cavity of the eye. A small amount of blood will cause dark floaters, while a large hemorrhage might block all vision, leaving only light and dark perception.
Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy
- The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. The scar tissue shrinks, wrinkling and pulling on the retina and distorting vision. If the pulling is severe, it may cause a retinal detachment and cause vision loss.
Laser surgery may be used to shrink the abnormal blood vessels and reduce the risk of bleeding. If the vitreous hemorrhage does not clear within a reasonable time, or if a retinal detachment is detected, an operation called a vitrectomy can be performed. During a vitrectomy, the eye surgeon removes the hemorrhage and any scar tissue that has developed, and performs laser treatment to prevent new abnormal vessel growth.
Laser Treatment Vitrectomy Surgery
People with Diabetic Retinopathy sometimes have no symptoms until it is too late to treat them. The retina may be badly injured before there is any change in vision.