How Laser Surgery Can Treat Diabetic Macular Edema By Dr. Parks on September 22, 2014

An older couple smiling together Clear vision is easy to take for granted until it is compromised by disease or injury. This is especially true of damage to the retina, which can lead to permanent and dramatic changes to one’s quality of vision. One such condition is macular edema, which is a relatively common result of diabetes. If left untreated, this condition will progressively blur one’s central field-of-vision and could ultimately lead to blindness. With laser treatment, though, this deterioration can be slowed or stopped completely.

Our Beverly Hills office is committed to providing the highest quality of retina treatments for a variety of problems. If you suffer from diabetic macular edema, or believe you may be at risk of developing it, Dr. Parks is ready to give you the care and guidance you need to retain your vision.

What Is Diabetic Macular Edema?

In order to understand what diabetic macular edema (DME) is, one must understand what the macula is and its function in the eye. Simply put, the macula is a small yellow spot located on the eye’s retina, the thin layer of tissue responsible for receiving and transmitting light to the optic nerves. The main function of the macula is to provide clear, high resolution vision in the center of one’s field-of-vision. If the macula is damaged or inhibited, the eye will not be able to properly focus on objects directly ahead.

DME is a condition wherein blood vessels become damaged and leak fluid into the macula of the retina. As fluid and pressure build up, the macula is increasingly hindered. The damage from DME is not considered curable, leaving patients to only slow or stop its progress before it significantly affects their eyesight. Although most people with diabetes will not develop DME, as many as 80 percent of people who have had diabetes for at least 10 years will develop diabetic retinopathy, which is the precursor to DME. 

Treatment Options for DME

The most effective and commonly recommended treatment option for DME is laser surgery, specifically photocoagulation. Since DME is caused by a leakage of blood vessels, laser surgery aims to seal these vessels with small but accurate points of heat. This treatment intends to stabilize the patient’s vision, preventing further loss. Depending on the patient’s condition and progression of diabetes, multiple laser treatments may be required over time in order to deal with future leakage into the macula.

DME generally forms in one of two ways, each of which requires a slightly different method of laser surgery:

  • Focal macular edema: In this form, damaged blood vessels can be detected and sealed individually, directly preventing the accumulation of fluid while leaving healthy tissue alone.
  • Diffuse macular edema: In this form, the surrounding capillaries in the retina are dilated but not broken, resulting in indirect leakage over a more general area. Since no individual vessels can be targeted, areas of tissue around the macula are treated collectively.

After treatment, patients should expect stabilized vision for at least some time. A follow-up exam is usually scheduled a few months later to evaluate the patient’s vision. If it has continued to worsen, additional laser treatments should be scheduled as needed.  

The Importance of Treatment

Because the effects of DME cannot be reversed, it is crucial that patients seek professional assessment and treatment as soon as they notice problems with their vision. If you have a history of diabetes and are experiencing blurred vision, persistent floaters, or double vision, visit our office as soon as possible. Roughly 10 percent of diabetic patients will develop DME eventually, and this risk is heightened for those with high blood pressure and abnormally high fluid retention.

With swift and appropriate treatment, you can preserve your vision for years to come. Don’t hesitate to call or visit our office with any concerns regarding recent vision loss.

Contact Us Today

Don’t allow your vision and quality-of-life to suffer any longer. Visit our office to benefit from our range of advanced retinal treatments. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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Dr. David J. Parks

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Pacific Retina Specialists specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of ocular complications of diabetes, age related macular degeneration, retinal detachment, ocular inflammation, and other retinal diseases. Schedule an appointment at one of our conveniently located offices in  Beverly Hills, Tamuning, Ridgecrest, and Lancaster.

You can reach us online, or by calling: (310) 289-3666

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