Patients with diabetes are at higher risk for developing eye conditions because of damage to blood vessels in the eye. These conditions can cause blood or fluid to leak from the retina or new blood vessels to grow on the surface of the retina which can lead to significant damages to your vision and overall quality of life. It is important for patients with diabetes to have dilated eye exams once a year to detect any signs of diabetic eye disease as soon as possible.
Non-Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and is a leading cause of blindness in adults. Diabetic retinopathy develops as a result of damage to the blood vessels in the retina, which may leak fluid or blood, causing the retina to become swollen and sometimes deposits to form. Early stages of diabetic retinopathy do not usually require treatment, although patients should monitor their blood sugar levels to prevent the disease from progressing.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is the most advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy, and is classified by the growth of new blood vessels on the retina. These blood vessels are abnormal and fragile, and are susceptible to leaking blood and fluid onto the retina, which can cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy usually seek laser surgery to shrink the new blood vessels and treat their condition.
Macular edema is a serious condition that can occur at any stage of diabetic retinopathy and involves a buildup of fluid in the macula, the light-sensitive part of the retina that allows us to see objects with great detail. Macular edema can cause difficulty reading or doing close work, and can often greatly affect a patient's quality of life by interfering with regular activities.
Treatment for macular edema usually includes a laser procedure called focal laser treatment. During this procedure, several hundred small laser burns are placed in the areas of retinal leakage around the macula to prevent leakage from occurring and reduce the amount of fluid in the retina.