Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

Henry Ford offers several diabetic retinopathy treatments, including laser therapy, anti-VEGF injections and vitrectomy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a condition related to diabetes, and it affects the small blood vessels in the retina. Without diabetic retinopathy treatment, the disease can lead to other eye conditions and even blindness. However, vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated early enough.

Controlling your diabetes

In the early, nonproliferative stages of the condition, you will not need any diabetic retinopathy treatments unless you have macular edema. However, you can help prevent diabetic retinopathy from progressing to the proliferative stage by controlling your:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels

Proliferative diabetic retinopathy treatments

Henry Ford offers several diabetic retinopathy treatments for patients who have progressed to the proliferative stage of the disease. No diabetic retinopathy treatments will cure the condition, but they can reduce the impact on your vision and overall eye health. In addition, with proliferative retinopathy, there is always a risk of more bleeding, and therefore the need for additional treatments.

Diabetic retinopathy laser treatments

Patients may undergo one of two types of diabetic retinopathy treatments with a laser:

  • Laser photocoagulation: This laser treatment is also known as focal laser treatment. During the procedure, the ophthalmologist focuses a laser on abnormal retinal blood vessels in the macula, or center of the retina. This seals the leaking vessels and helps to destroy new vessel growth.
  • Pan-retinal laser photocoagulation: This laser treatment is also known as scatter laser treatment. It is similar to laser coagulation, but in scatter laser treatment, the laser targets abnormal retinal vessels outside of the macula.

Both are painless procedures since the retina does not contain nerve endings.

Anti-VEGF intraocular injections

Before undergoing laser treatment, your Henry Ford ophthalmologist may recommend anti-VEGF injection therapy. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that promotes the growth of new blood vessels. With anti-VEGF intraocular injections, a special drug is injected into the vitreous – the clear fluid that fills the center of the eye – near the retina. The drug blocks growth signals of new blood vessels. Anti-VEGF therapy is also used to treat macular degeneration.

Vitrectomy

If you have a lot of blood in your vitreous, you may need to have a vitrectomy, which replaces the clear fluid in your eye with a sterile salt solution. During this procedure:

  • Anesthetic drops are added to your eye to numb it
  • A small incision is made in your sclera (the white of your eye)
  • All of the vitreous fluid is removed and replaced

At Henry Ford, patients come first.

The Henry Ford Department of Ophthalmology is committed to providing our patients with compassionate, personalized care. We feature the most advanced treatments in eye care and are dedicated to vision research – always staying at the forefront of innovation. A leader in Michigan, as well as one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the United States, we treat more than 55,000 patients per year at 12 locations throughout southeast Michigan. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it.

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