Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans. Unfortunately, patients with diabetic retinopathy rarely show symptoms until severe damage to the eye has already occured. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that people diagnosed with diabetes, type 1 or type 2, have their eyes checked at least once a year by a specialist. There are two types of Diabetic retinopathy:
Non-Proliferative Diabetice Retinopathy: This is the first stage of diabetic retinopathy. In this stage, blood vessels in the retina can enlarge or become blocked. Some blood vessels become leaky and they may leak blood, fluid, or proteins into the retina. When the leakage affects the center of the retina, the macula, we call this diabetic macular edema and central vision can become blurry.
Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy: This is considered the advanced form of diabetic retinopathy. At this point, diabetes has caused significant damage to the retina. New, blood vessels have started to grow into the eye, but these new blood vessels are irregular and often very fragile. Some of them break and bleed into the eye causing floaters and considerable loss of vision. If left untreated, scar tissue can begin to develop on the retina and in the vitreous and can lead to retinal detachments.
Both forms of diabetic retinopathy can be treated to help prevent the vision loss. Intravitreal injections of medications into the eye and laser surgery have been shown to be beneficial. We are constantly evaluating new emerging therapeutics for diabetic retinopathy, so please ask any of our doctors or staff to find out if a clinical trial is appropriate for you.