Diabetes Mellitus or what we know commonly as diabetes, is a collection of disorders that impact the body’s usage of blood sugar (glucose). Diabetes can affect the eye in a variety of ways.
A common complication is diabetic retinopathy where the tiny vessels of the retina are damaged. The frequency of diabetic retinopathy increases the longer one has diabetes – those with more than 10 years of diabetes are more likely to develop blood vessel anomalies and retinopathy.
EARLY STAGE TREATMENT
Symptoms are usually non-existent during the early stages although there are instances when vision is affected – blurriness, floaters, etc. During these early stages, the individual is periodically monitored and encouraged to keep blood sugar levels under control.
ADVANCED STAGE TREATMENT
In the later stages of the disease, the following treatments may be used to reduce the progression of the disease and to prevent visual loss.
Anti-VEGF (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor) therapy
This may be used to treat macular oedema in the eyes (swelling of the central retina). Anti-VEGF medication such as Lucentis (ranibizumab) or Eylea (aflibercept) is injected into the eye to minimise swelling.
Laser Pan-Retinal Photocoagulation (PRP) treatment is recommended for advanced stages of the disease. A focal laser is used to treat macular oedema and to reduce swelling. This laser treatment will prevent the development of abnormal new blood vessels.
SEVERE STAGE TREATMENT
Surgery may be required in extreme cases to control and stabilise the disease, for example, when there is extensive bleeding into the eye or when the retina becomes detached. Surgery, such as vitrectomy, may be performed to remove the leaked blood or to reattach the retina.