Treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is treated based on the type and severity of disease that is present. Treatment falls into essentially three approaches that can be used individually or at the same time.
1. Medical Treatment:
Medication that causes the regression (disappearance) of the small blood vessels that cause the complications of diabetic retinopathy can be injected directly into the eye. This category of medication is called anti-Vasogenic Endothelial Growth Factor or “anti-VEGF”. There are several varieties of anti-VEGF available. This treatment is done in the office and may need to be performed repeatedly.
2. Laser Photocoagulation
Laser has classically been the first approach to significant retinopathy, but the anti-VEGF medications have reduced the frequency of its use. Laser can help to seal leaking blood vessels, and thereby reduce swelling of the retina. Laser can also help abnormal blood vessels to regress. Laser is typically performed in the office.
Vitrectomy is the removal of the vitreous jelly that occupies the inside of the eye. Diabetics may occasionally bleed into the jelly or have abnormal blood vessels grow into the jelly. Surgical removal of the jelly, and the application of laser to the retina can help to remove the blood and abnormal blood vessels.