During the first three stages of diabetic retinopathy, no treatment is needed, unless you have macular edema. To prevent progression of diabetic
retinopathy, people with diabetes should control their levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Proliferative diabetic retinopathy is treated with laser surgery. At the Irwin Retina Center, laser surgery is done as an outpatient procedure and
requires no surgical incision. A strong light beam is aimed onto the retina to treat and shrink the abnormal vessels. If the bleeding is severe, you may
need a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy. During a vitrectomy, blood is removed from the center of the eye.
If you have macular edema, laser surgery may also be used. In this case, the laser beam is used to seal the leaking blood vessels. If you have macular
edema in both eyes and require laser surgery, generally only one eye will be treated at a time, usually several weeks apart. Focal laser treatment
stabilizes vision. In fact, laser treatment reduces the risk of vision loss by 50 percent. In a small number of cases, if vision is lost, it can be improved.
Research has shown that prompt treatment of macular edema with the drug Lucentis, with or without laser treatment, resulted in better vision than
laser treatment alone or steroid injections. When injected into the eye, Lucentis – and two other similar drugs, Avastin and Eylea – reduce fluid leakage
and interfere with the growth of new blood vessels in the retina. Your doctor will help you decide what is best for you.
Finding diabetic retinopathy early is the best way to prevent vision loss. With timely treatment, the majority of those with advanced diabetic retinopathy
can be saved from going blind.