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Diabetic Retinopathy

The retina is a layer of light-sensitive tissue in the eye that sends signals to the brain using nerve impulses up the optic nerve. People with diabetes unfortunately run the risk that the tiny blood vessels in the retina may become damaged or diseased; this is called diabetic retinopathy. This affects the retina slowly over a period of years. All people with diabetes are at risk, and the longer a person has diabetes the greater the risk of diabetic retinopathy.

The diabetes can cause blood vessels to swell and leak blood/fluid around the retina; the subsequent healing process then forms scar tissue. The part of the retina that provides your sharpest vision is called the macula; the leaking of blood/fluid caused by diabetes can cause the macula to swell, which causes blurred vision and is a common result of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

Although surgery doesn’t cure the condition, diabetic retinopathy treatment can slow down the process or prevent further vision loss for the patient. There are different surgical options to treat diabetic retinopathy:

  • Photocoagulation (laser treatment) – your ophthalmologist will use a laser beam to seal leaking blood vessels, as well as shrinking abnormal blood vessels.
  • Vitrectomy – this may be required when a lot of blood has leaked into the eye and vision doesn’t clear or the retina has detached. The ophthalmologist removes the vitreous body (a jelly-like substance that fills the inner eye) and replaces it with a salt solution. This solution is then absorbed over time and replaced by fluid produced by the eye. It is also possible that your ophthalmologist may also be able to remove some retinal scar tissue during this procedure.

This type of surgery is usually performed under local anaesthesia, but in some cases general anaesthesia may be used.

Generally diabetic retinopathy treatment is safe and effective, but like any surgery does have the possibility of risk and complications. If you would like to know more about your options for surgery if you are suffering from diabetic retinopathy give us a call today on (02) 9868 2333.