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Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. A loss of vision may result from one or both of the two main ways: proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. Both can be medically treated and chances for a successful outcome are greatly enhanced if detected and treated early. It is most important to have regular physicals to determine the presence of diabetes, and if found regular eye care is a must.

Diabetic patients have many special needs relative to the visual system. They may need to fill insulin syringes and read labels on medicine bottles. They may also have peripheral neuropathies (tingling or numbness), which affects their hands and feet, making it difficult to handle their injections and monitor their blood sugar levels. They may also experience many of the same symptoms as patients with macular degeneration. While macular degeneration is generally limited to the central retina, diabetic retinopathy may affect any part of the retina. It may spare all or part of the macula, or may affect the entire area of central vision.

Some of the treatments for diabetic retinopathy may include the use of thermal lasers. These will help to stabilize the proliferation and future vision loss, but may sacrifice some tissue.