State-of-the-art care and treatment for diabetic retinopathy in the Washington D.C. area
Preventing blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in adults. In most cases, vision loss from diabetes can be prevented or restored if treated in time. Patients need routine eye exams with treatment before their vision becomes blurry. Laser surgery is often needed to prevent vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is classified into two types: nonproliferative and proliferative.
Nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR)
NDR is the early state of the disease in which symptoms will be mild or nonexistent. In NPDR, the blood vessels in the retina are weakened, causing tiny bulges called microanuerysms to protrude from their walls. The microanuerysms may leak fluid into the retina, which may lead to swelling of the macula.
If you have NPDR, you may not need treatment right away. However, our eye doctor will closely monitor your eyes to determine if you need treatment.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR)
PDR is a complication of diabetes caused by changes in the eyes’ blood vessels. With diabetes, your body does not use and store sugar properly. High blood sugar creates changes in the veins, arteries and capillaries that circulate blood. This includes the tiniest of blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive nerve layer that lines the back of the eye.
In PDR, retinal blood vessels are so damaged that they close off. The retina grows new, fragile blood vessels on the surface of the retina, where they do not resupply its blood. Occasionally, they also leak and cause what is known as vitreous hemorrhage. Blood in the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye, blocks light from reaching the retina. A small amount of blood causes dark floaters, while a large hemorrhage might block all vision and leave only light and dark perception.
If you have PDR, you will need prompt surgical treatment. Sometimes surgery is also recommended for severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Depending on the specific problems with your retina, options may include:
Focal laser treatment – This laser treatment, also known as photocoagulation, can stop or slow the leakage of blood and fluid in the eye. It’s painless and is done in our office.
Scatter laser treatment – This laser treatment, also known as panretinal photocoagulation, can shrink the abnormal blood vessels. It’s also done in your eye doctor’s office or eye clinic.
Intravitreal injections – Intravitreal injections are commonly used to treat retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, macular edema and retinal vein occlusion. This procedure is performed in our office and requires only a local anesthetic. Before the medication is injected, the eye is numbed with anesthetic eyedrops to help minimize discomfort.
Surgery often slows or stops the progression of diabetic retinopathy, but it’s not a cure. Because diabetes is a lifelong condition, future retinal damage and vision loss are possible. Even after treatment for diabetic retinopathy, you’ll need regular eye exams. At some point, additional treatment may be recommended.
People with PDR sometimes have no symptoms. The retina may be badly damaged before there is any change in vision. Considerable evidence suggests that controlling your blood sugar decreases your chance of developing serious PDR. Remember, PDR often has no symptoms. If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes examined by an eye care professional at least once a year.
For state-of-the-art care and treatment for diabetic retinopathy, come to Visionary Eye Doctors . We see patients from Potomac, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville and Gaithersburg in Montgomery County, MD. Call us at (301) 896-0890 or use our online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation.