Diabetic Eye Disease - what are all the treatment options?

Diabetic Eye expert, Susanne Althauser, explains the symptoms of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes patients are expert at understanding their disease and for taking personal responsibility, however, it is important to keep an eye on symptoms and to understand the implications of the various treatment options.

Keeping an Eye on the Symptoms:

  • Fluctuating or changing vision.
  • A reduction or loss of sight.
  • Bleeding in the eye.
  • Increased pressure in the eye.

Diabetic Eye treatments

You will need treatment when diabetic macular oedema has led to a swelling and a decrease in vision or when you have Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy leading to the development of new retinal blood vessels.

1. Laser treatment is the standard treatment for diabetic retinopathy.
2. For maculopathy a focal laser/grid laser are applied to the centre of the retina to decrease thickening. Anti-VEGF intravitreal injections are used to treat maculopathy by stopping the leakage from current blood vessels and preventing the development of new blood vessels.
3. In proliferative diabetic retinopathy peripheral laser treatment is used to reduce newly developed blood vessels in the retina. Anti-VEGF injections temporarily close the new blood vessels in proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
4. Vitrectomy is a surgical operation whereby the gel in the eye is removed. Vitrectomies can be used both in the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and macular oedema.

Miss Althauser explains the relative risks of each treatment and how all treatments, except for vitrectomy, are carried out during an outpatient visit. Laser treatments will not require follow-up treatment whilst Anti-VEGF injections will be followed by administering antibiotic eye drops. Vitrectomy is a day surgery procedure with patients allowed to go home the same day and with follow-up to include eye drops.

A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Damage to the retina caused by diabetes Full medical glossary
glandular fever Full medical glossary
The accumulation of excess fluid in the tissues of the body. Full medical glossary
The most advanced stage of diabetic eye disease; faulty new blood vessels on the retina Full medical glossary
The light sensitive membrane that lines the back, inner surface of the eye and enables sight. Full medical glossary
Relating to the retina, the innermost layer of the eye. Full medical glossary
Any disorder of the retina, the innermost layer of the eye. Full medical glossary
A way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to Full medical glossary