Diabetic Retinopathy is an ocular complication of diabetes and is produced by damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Mild cases of diabetic retinopathy are characterized by dilated blood vessels found in the retina and small retinal haemorrhage. In more serious cases, there may be macular edema, vitreous haemorrhage, detachment of the retina and neovascular glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy generally appears in patients who have had diabetes for a long time and have consistently maintained poor metabolic control. Diabetic retinopathy can appear in both diabetes type 1 and type 2.
What can we do to prevent diabetic retinopathy?
Adequate metabolic control from the patient is essential to prevent diabetic retinopathy. From an ophthalmological perspective, it’s vital have the eye’s fundus regularly examined in order to diagnose diabetic retinopathy early on and subsequently treat the condition. If detected in time, the effect on the retina can be controlled without any serious consequences for the patient’s sight. Therefore, it’s essential that all diabetics are examined by an ophthalmologist at least once a year even if they do not have any symptoms related to their vision.
What does treatment of diabetic retinopathy consist of?
Mild cases of diabetic retinopathy do not require any specific treatment other than an adequate metabolic control and regular check-ups. For more serious cases there are several options:
Laser treatment. This can be applied to the macula (main area of the retina) to treat macular edema and the periphery of the retina (panretinal photocoagulation) to slow the progression of the retinopathy and subsequently avoid any loss of vision.
Injections of medication into the eyes. Corticosteroids and antiangiogenics are used mainly for treating macular edema.
Retinal surgery. In the most complex cases of diabetic retinopathy (detachment of retina, vitreous haemorrhage etc.) a vitrectomy surgical procedure is required.