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What is the Most Common Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 January 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of both type one and type two diabetes. Over time, tiny blood vessels in the eyes weaken, swell, and eventually rupture. The resulting blurry or spotty vision normally continue to worsen without prompt diabetic retinopathy treatment. The most common diabetic retinopathy treatment is an extension of standard diabetes treatment: careful regulation of blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. If eye problems become severe, surgery may be necessary to ablate blood vessels with lasers or physically excise damaged areas of the lens and retina.

Not everyone who has diabetes develops retinopathy, but the risk of eye problems increases significantly with advancing age. The first signs of the disorder may include diminished night vision, floating spots in the eyes, and gradually worsening blurriness. It is important for a diabetic person to consult with their doctors if eye problems develop to learn about diabetic retinopathy treatment options.

When symptoms are mild, a doctor usually decides not to administer a specific diabetic retinopathy treatment. Instead, the patient is instructed to keep up his or her normal regimen of medications and dietary choices. In some cases, patients may need to up their doses of insulin or start taking blood pressure medications to help prevent retinopathy from worsening. Doctors do not fully understand how diabetes triggers retinopathy, but it is clear that blood sugar and blood pressure are closely correlated with the disorder.

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Diabetic retinopathy that worsens despite medical care may require surgery. Procedures to treat retinopathy may not be able to improve existing problems, but they can help prevent further blood vessel eruptions and vision loss. The most common surgical diabetic retinopathy treatment involves using a laser to cauterize damaged blood vessels. Called photocoagulation, the procedure can usually be performed in a few minutes at a surgical center or ophthalmologist's office. If diabetic retinopathy becomes widespread in both eyes, another laser treatment called panretinal photocoagulation can be performed to destroy new blood vessels that spontaneously develop in the retinas.

A final option for advanced diabetic retinopathy treatment is vitrectomy. A surgeon makes an incision in the lens, detaches the retina, scrapes away scar tissue from vessel ruptures, and suctions out excess blood. The retina is then reattached and the eye is treated with antibiotics and saline solutions. Patients usually need to wear patches or protective eyewear for several days following the surgery. Recovery time varies, but most people who receive vitrectomies or photocoagulation experience vision improvement within about one month. Ongoing eye care and regular checkups are important to make sure that problems do not return.

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