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Diabetic Retinopathy: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Dec 05, 2023

What is the treatment?

Diabetic Retinopathy is a condition in which one’s retina gets damaged due to diabetes. It is one of the most prevailing causes of blindness. The longer you have been suffering from diabetes, the higher chance there is of you going through this. Changes in retinal blood vessels are caused due to changes in your blood glucose level. Retinal blood vessels may swell up and leak fluid in the rear of the eye resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy. Laser treatment (photocoagulation) is often used to treat diabetic eye disease. Removal of vitreous gel (vitrectomy) is another way to prevent loss of vision. Injections of anti VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) medicine or anti-inflammatory medicines may also help in shrinking the blood vessels. However, all these treatments must be done before the retina is severely damaged. Only then are they effective in preventing total vision loss.

If you are suffering from diabetes, early and extra cautiousness is recommended to protect yourself. First of all, you must try and keep your sugar levels in control by taking proper diet, insulation and exercising regularly for the well being of your whole body. You must take a dilated eye examination once a year along with regular blood sugar level tests and ketone level tests to be able to identify any kind of danger well in time.

How is the treatment done?

Photocoagulation or laser treatment is done to stop the leakage of blood and fluid in the eye. You must consult a doctor as soon as you sense trouble with your vision. The doctor will treat the abnormal blood vessels with laser burns. It can be treated in one session in your doctor’s eye clinic. In vitrectomy, blood is removed from the middle of your eye (vitreous) by a small incision. The blood from the scar tissue that tugs on the retina is also cleaned up. This surgery is done in hospitals or surgical centres using local anaesthesia.

Treatment for Diabetic Retinopathy is not permanent. It may stop or slow down the leakage of fluid and blood but diabetes is a lifelong condition that must be cared for throughout your life. There remains a possibility of Diabetic Eye Disease occurring again at any point of time. You must go through regular eye examinations even after surgery to prevent it.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Diabetic Retinopathy can occur in people suffering from diabetes. If your vision undergoes blurred/ fluctuating sights, empty areas or colour impairment, you must get your eyes checked as soon as possible.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who do not suffer from diabetic retinopathy are not eligible for the treatment.

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Are there any side effects?

Your eyes may be red and sensitive for some time. You may need to wear an eye patch for a few days or weeks. However, there is nothing to be worried about.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You might have to use medicated eye drops for a few weeks to keep infections at bay. One must remember that Diabetic Retinopathy cannot be fully eliminated. There still remain some chances of it occurring again in the future. Therefore, it is advisable to go for a dilated eye examination test at least once a year and keep a check on your sugar levels.

How long does it take to recover?

You will probably be allowed to return home after the treatment. The doctor may ask you to stay a night if your condition is a little critical. The doctor may also advise you to wear an eye patch for a few days. It does not take too long to recover if you take proper care.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The treatment varies in price from Rs 60,000 - Rs 80,000

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The result of treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy is not permanent. There is a fair chance of this disease rebounding hence, regular checkups are suggested.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Vitamin A and cartenoid are known to keep your eyes healthy and improve night vision. Eating spinach and grape seed extract is also considered to be very good for the eyes.

References

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Written ByDr. Anurag Agarwal MS - Ophthalmology,MBBSOphthalmology
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