Diabetic Retinopathy

İzmir Kaskaloglu Eye Hospital

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a frequent cause of blindness in adults. It is caused by changes in the retina’s blood vessels. However, blindness caused by diabetes is preventable with proper control of diabetes and with yearly eye examinations.

Diabetes causes a problem with the blood vessels in the body. The blood vessels begin to leak fluid, blood and protein. In the eye, this leakage is seen in the retina as retinal bleeding and swelling. This blood and swelling interferes with the normal function of the eye, resulting in decreased vision. If this condition is not corrected, visual loss can be permanent. This type of retinopathy is called background, or non-proliferative, retinopathy.

Eventually, the abnormal blood vessels in the eye begin to grow. These abnormally growing blood vessels are very fragile, and especially prone to bleeding. These abnormal blood vessels may cause a large sudden hemorrhage, called a vitreous hemorrhage that can result in rapid complete loss of vision. Usually, this visual loss is not permanent, but vision may not return to normal after this hemorrhage. This type of retinopathy is called proliferative retinopathy.

The best treatment for diabetic retinopathy is prevention. All diabetics should check their own blood sugar daily and record the results in a journal. This should be shown to your primary medical doctor at each follow-up visit so that tight control of blood sugar can be achieved. This means that all fasting blood sugar measurements should fall within a very narrow range. If your blood sugar tends to fluctuate a lot, your doctor must adjust your medications and your diet to optimize control of your diabetes. This is the best way to prevent blindness from diabetes.

Diabetes can also cause premature development of cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which can cause blurred vision, glare and difficulty focusing. The abnormal vessels in proliferative retinopathy are not limited to the retina of the eye. Sometimes, these abnormal blood vessels grow on the iris of the eye and cover the drainage angle. This blockage of the drainage angle results in accumulation of aqueous humor fluid in the eye, increased pressure in the eye, and, ultimately, in a type of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma.

If prevention of diabetic retinopathy has failed, your ophthalmologist can use a laser to cauterize the abnormal blood vessels to stop the leakage of fluid and blood. However, these problems will continue to recur as long as the diabetes is not medically controlled.

Kaskaloglu Eye Hospital doctors diagnose and treat retinal diseases caused by diabetes.The hospital’s main diagnostic device is OCT (optical coherence tomography), OCT-a (optical coherence tomography angigraphy)and FFA (digital fluorescein angiography). The major treatment device is the argon laser. A major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy is anti-VGEF (Lucentis, Eylea) injections. For advanced cases vitrectomy operation is done. Our doctors are experienced with all of these techniques.