How Do Eye Doctors Treat Diabetic Retinopathy?

Doctors have a range of options for treating individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.

Photocoagulation (Laser surgery) ► Photocoagulation (Laser surgery) ▼

A common treatment for some forms of retinopathy is photocoagulation. In this procedure, the doctor uses a laser to seal leaking or bleeding vessels. During the treatment, the laser beam is carefully aimed at problem areas.

In advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, more laser treatment may be needed. "Pan-retinal photocoagulation" uses a laser beam to treat many places on the retina. This technique helps prevent the growth of new, unhealthy blood vessels. Note: laser treatments are not used for every case of diabetic retinopathy.

Vitrectomy ► Vitrectomy ▼

In this treatment, a doctor uses a small suction tool to take out the vitreous jelly of your eye. This operation removes blood and scar tissue in the vitreous as well. The doctor uses fluid to replace the vitreous.

Treatment Research ► Treatment Research ▼

Scientists are still working toward a better understanding of diabetic retinopathy, and new treatment options are on the horizon. These efforts include medications that may prevent abnormal blood vessels from forming in the eye. Some of these medications are injected directly into the eye to treat existing swelling or abnormal blood vessels.

As research continues, early detection of retinopathy and close watch by an eye doctor are major goals for the successful treatment of patients with diabetes.

People with diabetes need to know that dangerous changes in the retina often happen before they notice changes in their sight. All people with diabetes should have a professional eye exam at least once a year. The eye doctor can decide if you need more frequent exams. People with diabetes should also get regular medical care to control their diabetes.