Diabetic Retinopathy: Your Treatment Options

There are a host of complications that come along with diabetes of either type. Among them are increased risks for amputation, cardiovascular disease, and diabetic retinopathy: a condition in which the blood vessels of the retina in a person's eyes become damaged – often causing vision loss.

Doctors like Dr. Andrew Schimel, a retina specialist at the Center for Excellence in Eye Care at Baptist Health South Florida, encourage victims of retinopathy to get regular eye exams and pursue treatment. While there may not be a cure for retinopathy, timely diagnosis and proper treatment can help prevent the disease's progression and save your eyesight.

Eyeball Injections and Other Options

At Dr. Schimel's Florida office, intravitreal injections are the key to changing the course of his patients' developing retinopathy. This procedure involves injecting medicine into the eye, near the retina. The medicine then works to counteract the existing damage to the blood vessels, effectively slowing the progression of the disease.

Of course, not every person out there wants to get an injection into his or her eye – some people can hardly manage putting in contact lenses! Surgeries such as laser surgery (which helps to shrink abnormal blood vessels) and pars plana vitrectomy (wherein a machine surgically goes into the eye to scrape away blood and scar tissue) are also available to people suffering from diabetic retinopathy.

As more people develop diabetes all over the world, procedures like these are slowing becoming more common. In fact, intravitreal injections are currently the most common ophthalmic procedure performed in the United States.

It cannot be stated enough how important it is for people with diabetes to get regular eye exams and carefully monitor their own vision; after all, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in U.S. adults between the ages of 20 and 74. If we all stay vigilant with our vision health, that statistic could fade away.

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