The retina is the layer of nerves that lines the back of the eye. The retina plays an important role in vision. This part of the eye takes a snapshot of images and sends signals to the brain that allow images to be processed. If the retina becomes damaged or diseased, a patient’s vision will suffer. One common type of retinal disease is diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy weakens the blood vessels in the eye and can ultimately lead to impaired vision or vision loss. In its earliest stages, diabetic retinopathy may be controlled through lifestyle changes, but as the condition progresses, more serious treatment will be needed. While there is no cure for diabetic retinopathy, a surgical procedure known as a vitrectomy can control diabetic retinopathy and improve vision. For our patients with diabetic retinopathy, a vitrectomy at our Monterey, CA practice may be the best way to slow the progression of this disease and preserve clear vision.
The Progression of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is triggered by uncontrolled blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Diabetes can cause damage to small blood cells throughout the body, including those in the eyes. When the blood vessels in the eye weaken, they can begin to develop tiny bulges. Over time, these bulges may burst. When these bulges burst, blood and other fluids will begin leaking into the eye. As these fluids leak into the eye, the retinal tissues will begin to swell. Eventually, the patient will notice that his or her vision becomes blurry or that flashers or floaters are appearing in the field of vision. By the time the vision has been affected, it is likely that diabetic retinopathy has reached its advanced stages.
A vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that can be effective in treating advanced diabetic retinopathy. Although this procedure is not a cure for diabetic retinopathy, it can reverse some of the effects of the disease, slow its progression, and improve a patient’s vision.
During this procedure, our doctors will remove scar tissue that may have built up in the eye. Additionally, we will remove the vitreous gel that has become cloudy as a result of leaking blood vessels. This gel that makes up the liquid center of the eye will be replaced with a clear artificial solution.
By removing scar tissue and replacing cloudy vitreous gel, we can greatly improve vision for most of our patients with diabetic retinopathy. However, if retinal damage is severe and detachment has occurred, the patient is also likely to require surgery to repair retinal detachment.
Prolonging the Results of Vitrectomy
Even after a vitrectomy, diabetic retinopathy will continue to progress and threaten the health and function of the eyes. It is important for patients to take steps to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy and prolong the results of vitrectomy treatment. The following practices are important in achieving these goals:
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
- Take all prescribed medication
- Exercise regularly
- Take steps to monitor and control blood pressure
- Avoid smoking
Schedule an Appointment
Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision loss, but there are treatments available to help patients preserve their eyesight. To learn more about vitrectomy and other treatments for diabetic retinopathy, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced eye doctors at Monterey County Eye Associates.