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Posted by: Georgia Center for Sight

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic Retinopathy can cause permanent loss of eyesight or blindness in individuals with diabetes. There are two types of diabetic retinopathy, both of which are defined by abnormal blood vessels of the retina.

Advanced Diabetic Retinopathy

In proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels become obstructed and the retina cannot get proper nutrition. The lack of nutrition causes the growth of abnormal new blood vessels in the retina, which can cause bleeding and scar tissue. In nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels develop tiny leaks allowing fluid or blood to seep into the retina, which causes swelling or blurred vision.

Once damage is done it is often very difficult to restore your eyesight. Yearly eye exams will allow early detection and prompt treatment. Proper treatment has made it possible for the vast majority of our patients with diabetes to maintain their vision.

The leading cause of blindness: Laser surgery has become a beneficial tool in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Depending on the type and severity, lasers can be used to either seal the leaking blood vessels or destroy the diseased portion of the retina. There is no cure for diabetes. The retina could receive continued damage, but laser surgery can prevent further visual loss.

Treatment with the diabetic laser takes less than five minutes, requires only an eye drop for anesthesia, and is typically described as painless. Patients can immediately return to regular activities following treatment.

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