Diabetic Wellness

Diabetic Retinopathy

Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

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Non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) is caused by fluid from the blood vessels in the retina leaking into the macula. This causes the macula to swell and can lead to blurry or cloudy vision. In its more advanced stages, proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) sets in, and new blood vessels form in the retina. These irregular blood vessels can cause damage by leaking blood into the vitreous. If it goes untreated, PDR can potentially lead to retinal detachment or glaucoma.

Treating Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Any diabetic with blurred vision, flashes, or floaters should see an eye care specialist promptly. The specialist may recommend laser treatment or surgery. If a retinal detachment or vitreous hemorrhage occurs because of the weakened vessels, surgery may be able to fix these problems.

Prevention Tips

The best way to manage diabetic retinopathy, as with most diseases, is prevention. If you have diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions for how to best manage it. Doing so will help stave off the onset of NPDR. Have regular eye exams so doctors can monitor any developments in the condition of your retina. If serious problems occur, there are medical and surgical procedures we can use to protect as much of your vision as possible.

What is Macular Edema?

Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the eye’s macula, the part of your eye responsible for detailed, central vision. The macula is a very small area at the center of the retina—a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Light rays are focused onto the retina, where they are transmitted to the brain and interpreted as the images you see. It is the macula that is responsible for your pinpoint vision, allowing you to read, sew, or recognize a face. Macular edema develops when blood vessels in the retina are leaking fluids. The macula does not function properly when it is swollen. Vision loss may be mild to severe, but in many cases, your peripheral (side) vision remains. Macular edema is often a complication of diabetic retinopathy, and is the most common form of vision loss for people with diabetes—particularly if it is left untreated.

What are the Symptoms?

Macular edema is often painless and may display few symptoms when it develops. When symptoms do occur, they are a sign that the blood vessels in your eye may be leaking. Symptoms of macular edema may include blurred or wavy central vision or colors appear washed out or changed. If you have macular edema symptoms, you should see an ophthalmologist right away. If left untreated, macular edema can cause severe vision loss and even blindness.

What Treatment is Available?

If your ophthalmologist makes a macular edema diagnosis due to diabetes or retinal vein occlusion, focal laser treatment is often used to reduce swelling of the macula. With this form of laser surgery, your ophthalmologist applies many tiny laser pulses to areas of fluid leakage around the macula. The main goal of treatment is to stabilize vision by sealing off leaking blood vessels that interfere with the proper function of the macula. In some cases, vision loss may be improved with laser treatment.

What is Age-Relation Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far. But your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal. For instance, imagine you are looking at a clock with hands. With AMD, you might see the clock’s numbers but not the hands.

What are the two types of AMD?

There are two types: Dry AMD and Wet AMD

Dry AMD: This form is quite common. About 80% (8 out of 10) of people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD is when parts of the macula get thinner with age and tiny clumps of protein called drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet.

Wet AMD: This form is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD is when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. You lose vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD. Many people don’t realize they have AMD until their vision is very blurry. This is why it is important to have regular visits to an ophthalmologist. He or she can look for early signs of AMD before you have any vision problems.

Who is at risk for AMD?

You are more likely to develop AMD if you:

  • Eat a diet high in saturated fat (found in foods like meat, butter and cheese)
  • Are overweight
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have a family history of AMD
  • Are Caucasian (white)

If these apply to you, schedule a consultation with us.

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