Just as Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of poor vision among elderly patients, Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of poor vision in patients under the age of 60.
Diabetic Retinopathy tends to present in patients that have been diabetic for more than 10 years and in patients that are insulin dependent. Strict blood sugar control is an important part of the overall management of the disease. There are two types of Diabetic Retinopathy: Background Diabetic Retinopathy and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy.
Background Diabetic Retinopathy is the initial phase of eye involvement in which retinal blood vessels become narrowed and unable to carry enough oxygen to the retinal tissue. Microaneurysms represent small areas of weakening in the diseased blood vessels that tend to leak and bleed easily, thus resulting in focal areas of retinal swelling and deposits in the retina called hard exudates. If left untreated, the retinal will become more starved for oxygen and areas of retinal infarct or stroke occur. This marks the onset of Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, which is characterized by hemorrhaging inside the eye and retinal scarring.
Frequent dilated eye examinations of the retina are vital to creating a plan of treatment to prevent progression of this disease. Specialized diagnostic testing with Fluoroscein Angiography and Ocular Coherence Tomography to assess areas of blood vessel leakage and retinal swelling are a routine part of a patient’s treatment plan.
The treatment plan for diabetic retinopathy may vary from simple observation to intervention with retinal laser treatments or even referral to a retinal specialist in complicated forms of the disease. At Valley Eye, retinal laser treatments are carried out using the state-of-the-art Pascal Pattern Photocoagulator. This special laser enables the treating physician to provide a more rapid, precise, and safe treatment. Patients experience a reduced number of treatment sessions, reduction in anesthesia, and improved comfort during the procedure.
In addition, the Pascal Laser is capable of treating a wide variety of retinal diseases and conditions in a safe and efficient manner.