Living with diabetes can be difficult to manage. For some, diabetes causes major ocular health problems.
A common eye disease caused by diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when fluids build up in the eye; this fluid retention is because of leaking blood vessels.
Diabetic retinopathy can cause general discomfort, visual symptoms, and gradual vision loss. Luckily, there are several treatment options for diabetic retinopathy.
The right treatment depends on the disease’s progression and symptoms. Here are the primary treatment options available to most patients:
Control Blood Sugar Levels
Don’t want diabetic retinopathy to become more severe? The best thing to do is to manage your glucose and blood pressure.
This often means maintaining a careful diet and using prescribed medication. If your blood sugar levels out, it can even restore vision loss from retinopathy. This isn’t guaranteed, but it is possible!
Anti-VEGF Injections (Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor)
Certain medications can help reduce swelling in the eye. These medications are anti-vascular endothelial growth factor medication or anti-VEGF medication.
These drugs reduce the swelling of the macula. The macula is the part of the eye that engorges due to abnormal blood vessel growth. The anti-VEGF medication stops the growth of these blood vessels.
The medication is administered through an injection into the surface of the eye. To prevent discomfort, your eye is first numbed before the injection.
Although anti-VEGF drugs are powerful, their effects don’t last forever. Abnormal blood vessels completely disappear within 48 hours, but regrowth will occur.
Anti-VEGF injections will usually wear off after 4-6 weeks. You’ll need to have regular injections to stop swelling and keep the rate of regrowth down.
Like anti-VEGF injections, you can have steroids injected into your eyes. They can reduce swelling in the macula, but they come with side effects.
Steroids can also be injected into the eye much as an anti-VEGF medication can. When used regularly, steroids are associated with cataracts and glaucoma. If steroid use is in moderation and with other treatment methods, they can be quite effective.
There are two laser surgeries that seal leaking blood vessels and prevent swelling. The first is focal laser treatment. This involves sealing off blood vessels on the retina with a focused beam.
Focal laser treatment is only limited since the laser can be harmful to the retina. Instead, it is not used in the center of the retina.
The second laser procedure is scatter laser treatment. It seals off blood vessels on the retina away from the macula.
This is in scattered bursts that burn the blood vessels shut. Both these treatments prevent further swelling but don’t reduce existent swelling or restore vision.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure where an incision is made in the eye. Through the incision, fluids are then drained out from the vitreous.
This is the middle section of the eye. This often can restore vision by allowing light to reach the retina without built up fluid being in the way.
Looking for a way to treat your diabetic retinopathy? Contact the experts at the Nielsen Eye Center in greater Boston, MA to schedule an appointment today!