There is no cure for
diabetic retinopathy. But
laser treatment (photocoagulation) is usually very
effective at preventing vision loss if it is done before the
retina has been severely damaged. Surgical removal of
vitreous gel (vitrectomy) may also help improve vision
if the retina has not been severely damaged. Sometimes injections of an anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medicine or an anti-inflammatory medicine help to shrink new blood vessels in proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Because symptoms may not develop
until the disease becomes severe, early detection through regular screening is
important. The earlier retinopathy is detected, the easier it is to treat and
the more likely vision will be preserved.
You may not need
treatment for diabetic retinopathy unless it has affected the center (macula) of the retina or, in rare cases, if your side
(peripheral) vision has been severely damaged. But you do need to have your
vision checked regularly.
One of the keys to leading a healthy life with diabetes is to keep your glucose levels, or blood sugar, in check. As your main source of energy, glucose plays a big role in keeping your body working like it should. If you have either type of diabetes, you need to be aware of symptoms that may mean your glucose is out of balance.
If your blood sugar is too low:
If the macula has been damaged by
macular edema, you may need laser treatment. For more
severe retinopathy, you may need either laser treatment or vitrectomy. These
procedures can help prevent, stabilize, or slow vision loss when they are done
before the retina has been severely damaged. Newer treatment includes medicines like anti-VEGF medicine or steroids that are injected into the eye.
Surgical removal of
the vitreous gel (vitrectomy) is done when there is bleeding (vitreous
retinal detachment, which are rare in people with
early-stage retinopathy. Vitrectomy is also done when severe scar tissue has
Treatment for diabetic retinopathy is often very effective
in preventing, delaying, or reducing vision loss. But it is not a cure for the
disease. People who have been treated for diabetic retinopathy need to be
monitored frequently by an eye doctor to check for new changes in their eyes.
Many people with diabetic retinopathy need to be treated more than once as the
condition gets worse.
Also, controlling your blood sugar levels is
always important. This is true even if you have been treated for diabetic
retinopathy and your eyes are better. In fact, good blood sugar control is
especially important in this case so that you can help keep your retinopathy
from getting worse.
Ideally, laser treatment should be done early
in the course of the disease to prevent serious vision loss rather than to try
to treat serious vision loss after it has already developed.
People with diabetes who have any signs of retinopathy need to be
examined as soon as possible by an
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
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