Retinal Damage Due to Diabetes
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in patients 20 to
74 years of age. Persistent elevations in blood sugar results in blood
vessel damage to the eye. Damaged blood vessels can then lead to vessel
leakage or abnormal blood vessel growth. Two forms of diabetic retinopathy
result when the abnormal blood vessels of the diabetic patient begin to
leak, or new blood vessels begin to grow.
Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels leak and
fluid accumulates in the retina. When the leakage is severe (“clinically
significant macular edema”), laser surgery can be used to reduce
or eliminate the associated retinal swelling. Vision may or may not usually
improve with the laser treatment, but if performed early enough, it may
stop further vision loss. New intraocular medicines may also limit this
kind of eye damage.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy results from further collapse or closure
of blood vessels. The retina becomes sick where blood vessels have closed,
releasing growth factors that stimulate the growth of new abnormal blood
vessels. These new vessels are fragile and can easily bleed causing hemorrhage
in the eye and blindness. Laser surgery can drastically reduce the risk
of severe vision loss in patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
A procedure termed vitrectomy may be required to restore vision.
Back to Tertiary Retinal Surgery