Treating Retinopathy: Individuals who suffer from diabetes not only have to worry about keeping their blood glucose level in check but also have to be cautious about various side effects which may occur as a result of the diabetes. One such side effect of having diabetes which some individuals experience is the medical condition known as retinopathy. Retinopathy is generally disorders of the retina which are caused by diabetes. There are two main types of retinopathy which are proliferative and nonproliferative.
Proliferative retinopathy is the more serious type of retinopathy which is the result of many years of having retinopathy. Those who experience this type of retinopathy can experience a vitreous hemorrhage or a retinal detachment. Fortunately, proliferative retinopathy is the less common type. The more common form of retinopathy, or nonproliferative retinopathy, is the blockage of blood vessels which can cause vision impairment, or macula edema. The good news is that this type of retinopathy can be stopped and perhaps even some vision regained if the diabetic gets medical attention quick enough.
How Is Retinopathy Treated?
Perhaps the most important thing one should know about retinopathy is that it can be treated if caught early on. In order to diagnose retinopathy the diabetic must have regular eye exams as this is the way for your doctor to take notice of any possible retinopathy conditions and work to repair vision loss while preventing future vision impairment. There are a few different ways in which retinopathy is treated and these include scatter photocoagulation, focal photocoagulation and vitrectomy.
The general purpose of photocoagulation is to restore vision by making a series of small burns on the retina with a laser. The laser is used to seal the blood vessels and prevent further leakage. With scatter photocoagulation, the doctor will use the laser to burn a couple hundred dots on the retina. Such treatment is often performed at least two times in order to produce effective results. This treatment method is used when vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment have started to occur but can only usually be successful so long as the hemorrhage or detachment is not fully complete nor has it progressed too far. There are only a couple of side effects currently known to be associated with scatter photocoagulation and these include blurred vision for a few days post-treatment and potential loss of peripheral vision.
As for the focal photocoagulation, this type of treatment consists of a laser being used to treat the macula directly. This type of treatment will not reverse prior vision loss but it is a way to help prevent future vision loss from occurring. This is often used in the case of macular edema associated with nonproliferative retinopathy.
For the more serious type of vision loss associated with retinopathy, a vitrectomy is required. This is used when neither type of photocoagulation will aid in restoring or preventing vision loss. This procedure is used in the case of complete retinal detachment or extreme leakage of blood into the eye. A vitrectomy is the removal of the scar tissue and cloudy fluid from inside of the eye. Removal of the excess blood will usually be successful however the success rate of retinal reattachment is often only 50% in many cases.
Determining Which Treatment Method is Required
The main way to know which treatment method for retinopathy may be required is to consult your medical health professional. Your eye specialist will examine the eye(s), diagnose the medical condition and offer you proposed treatment solutions. No matter what your condition is and which treatment method is proposed, always be sure to thoroughly understand both the condition and treatment procedure. Ask your doctor any questions which you have so that you may better understand what the problem is and how you can best fix it.