Retinopathy is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina—the thin, light-sensitive inner lining in the back of your eye.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes and the leading cause of new-onset blindness in American adults.
Effective treatments are available to preserve vision for eyes at risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
01 How the Eye Sees
02 NPDR – Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
The first stage is called non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) There are no symptoms, it is not visible to the naked eye and patients will have 20/20 vision. The only way to detect NPDR is by fundus photography, in which microaneurysms (microscopic blood-filled bulges in the artery walls) can be seen.;
03 Macular Edema-Ischemia
Macular edema is swelling or thickening of the macula, a small area in the centre of the retina that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular ischemia occurs when small blood vessels (capillaries) close. Vision blurs because the macula no longer receives sufficient blood supply to work properly.
04 Laser for Macular Edema
Laser photocoagulation is still the best treatment for diabetic macular edema. Diabetic macular edema, or DME, is the most common complication of diabetic retinopathy and it will affect almost everyone with the eye disease.
05 PDR – Prolific Diabetic Retinopathy
PDR is characterized by the growth of new and abnormally weak blood vessels from the retina into the vitreous gel that fills the eye.
06 Laser Procedure for Prolific Diabetic Retinopathy
Laser photocoagulation may be performed to seal damaged or abnormal blood vessels and prevent them from leaking. This treatment does not restore lost vision, but it can prevent further deterioration, which is why early diabetic retinopathy diagnosis through routine eye exams is imperative.
07 Vitreous Hemorrhage
Vitreous hemorrhage is the extravasation, or leakage, of blood into the areas in and around the vitreous humor of the eye. The vitreous humor is the clear gel that fills the space between the lens and the retina of the eye.
Vitrectomy is the surgical removal of the vitreous gel from the middle of the eye . It may be done when there is a retinal detachment, because removing the vitreous gel gives your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) better access to the back of the eye. The vitreous gel may also be removed if blood in the vitreous gel (vitreous hemorrhage) does not clear on its own.
The field of ophthalmology is advancing at a rapid rate. Revolutionary advances have enabled the preservation of sight in patients who once may have been permanently blind. Ophthalmologists were the first surgeons to use laser surgery and transplant surgery, often with miraculous results.
Animation credit: American Academy of Ophthalmology