Diabetic Retinopathy: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Nov 22, 2014 — by Dr. Parks
Tags: Diabetic Retinopathy

An older couple together smilingPatients in the greater Los Angeles area put their trust in Dr. David J. Parks because of his great ability at addressing eye health issues related to the retinas. We can diagnose and treat different retinal diseases and improve overall eye health. One particular retinal condition that we are able to treat is diabetic retinopathy, which we'd like to go over in basic terms right now.

About Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the loss of vision caused by diabetes. This occurs when the amount of sugar in your system causes your blood vessels to become blocked, so much so that the blood supply to your retina is either compromised or completely cut off. While your existing blood vessels become more and more blocked, your system will try and adapt by creating new vessels. However, these new blood vessels typically do not grow correctly, which sometimes causes leaking and additional loss of vision. The vessels your system creates can also block additional fluids from flowing correctly in your eyes, which can result in glaucoma.

The Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy

The most common cause of diabetic retinopathy is too much sugar in your system. If your intake of sugar is too high, the lenses of your eyes are prone to swelling, putting you at additional risk of vision loss.

How to Treat Diabetic Retinopathy

If you are diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, your treatment should involve your doctor and an ophthalmologist working in concert. One of the primary points of action will be to lower and control your blood sugar, and your medical doctor will be able to treat additional complications that may have come to the surface because of your elevated sugar levels.

Undergoing a Vitrectomy

As you are receiving treatment for your overall blood sugar levels, you should consult an ophthalmologist to treat your retinopathy and the overall function of your eyes.

Your ophthalmologist will be able to treat your retinopathy with a procedure referred to as a vitrectomy, which involves the removal and replacement of the vitreous gel within the eye.

Although these may seem like options for the worst-case scenario as it relates to your diabetic retinopathy, your doctor may advise one or all of these treatments before you lose any vision at all. As is the case with many health problems, early treatment is the best option for your diabetic retinopathy.

Have Realistic Expectations About the Treatment Process

Even with the bevy of treatments available for diabetic retinopathy, you should temper expectations of the kinds of results you expect. While the treatments above have been proven effective in preventing additional vision loss, none of these can undo existing loss of vision. As previously mentioned, it is best to see your doctor regularly so he or she can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy. This gives you and your doctor the best chance of treating your diabetic retinopathy early enough to avoid any loss of vision at all.

If you have already experienced any amount of vision loss, your doctor may be able to suggest options available for visual rehabilitation. Even with this in mind, it is best to understand that any amount of vision loss is likely permanent and can only be prevented by early treatment.

Learn More About Treating Retinal Conditions

For more information about the treatment of diabetic retinopathy as well as many other conditions that affect your retinas, be sure to contact our eye care and retinal specialists today. Dr. Parks and his entire team look forward to meeting you in person and helping you maintain your vision and overall eye health.

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