If you have Diabetic Retinopathy or Diabetic Macular Edema, getting treated PROMPTLY can SAVE your vision!
If you have Diabetic Retinopathy or Diabetic Macular Edema, there a few treatment options that can help save your vision: anti-VEGF injections, laser therapy, steroids, and surgery. Anti-VEGF injections are the newest and usually most effective intervention for treating DR and DME. Ask your doctor if injections are a good option for you.
The cause of these problems are the blood vessels in the back of your eye. They may be overgrown, or leaking fluid.
Remember: Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) occurs when the blood vessels in the back of your eye grow out of control. Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) occurs when the blood vessels leak fluid into the eye, causing swelling that often leads to vision loss.
The most effective treatments are called Anti-VEGF injections. They can stop blood vessels from growing and dry the fluid in the eye
The new standard of care for Diabetic Retinopathy and Diabetic Macular Edema are anti-VEGF injections. These treatments stop the leakiness of the blood vessels in your retina. This can get rid of the swelling in your eye. Injections can keep you from losing your vision and can even help you regain vision that has already been lost.
When you get an injection, you will be given eye drops to numb your eye. Your eye doctor will then place a needle into your eye to inject the medicine that will stop your blood vessels from leaking. This injection only takes a few seconds. In most cases, the injection does not hurt, but everyone responds differently.
There is no cure for DME, so it is important to continue treatment—even once your vision improves—to continue having better vision.
Some of the most common side effects from injections include redness, small specks in vision, eye pain, and increased eye pressure, which usually go away a few days after the injection. Other effects include infection inside your eye, throat or nose infections, anemia, and nausea. The retina can also detach from the blood vessels in your eye. More serious effects include blood clots, stroke, inflammation inside the eye, and cataract. Do not get injections if you are allergic to any of its materials. Work with your doctor to make sure you are not allergic.
After the procedure, ask your retina specialist if you should avoid doing any activities to make sure you have a smooth recovery.
Other treatments that may help you include: laser therapy, steroids, and surgery.
There a few other treatment options that can help keep your vision: laser therapy, steroids, and surgery. Laser is a tool that shines a special kind of light. Treatment with laser can slow down the development of DME or make abnormal blood vessels less likely to bleed to prevent vision loss. Steroids can stop the swelling in your eye by reducing the leakiness of the blood vessels in your eye. Finally, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure called a “vitrectomy” that would replace the vitreous of your eye with a salt solution. The vitreous is a clear substance that fills your eye, and helps maintain its shape.
Steroids can stop the swelling in your eye by reducing the leakiness of the blood vessels in your retina.
Steroids are a type of hormone (chemicals that flow through your bloodstream and tell cells and organs how to function) naturally produced by the body. Some steroids are man-made medicines to treat different health conditions, like DME.
Steroids can be injected into the eye or given through eye implants. The steroid implants used for DME are tiny devices shaped like a rod that are injected in the back of the eye. Some can slowly dissolve over time, gradually releasing controlled amounts of the steroid. Other types of implants do not dissolve and can stay in your eye to release the drug for up to three years. A benefit to implants is that you would not need to go into the doctor’s office for treatment as often as you would with injections.
Some of the most common side effects from steroids include cataract development, redness, inflammation in the eye, and an increase in eye pressure. You should not use steroids if you are allergic to the drug or if you have advanced glaucoma, an artificial lens lacking a posterior capsule, eye infection, history of eye surgery, ulcers, or injury that has removed the lens in your eye.
Laser was once the standard treatment for DME, but is now used less often since injections have become available and are proven to be much more effective. Laser is a tool that shines a special kind of light. Treatment with laser can slow down the development of DME and prevent vision loss, but it rarely improves vision that has already been lost.
During laser treatment, a tool will be placed at your eye. It will direct light at the damaged blood vessels in your eye. This light converts to heat when it reaches your eye and can stop or slow down the leakiness in your retina.
One laser session is usually enough to stop the leakiness, but some patients may need multiple sessions. You may have a follow-up exam three months after the procedure to check if you need more laser treatment. If you have DME in both eyes, laser therapy will be applied to one eye at a time, with procedures typically separated by several weeks.
Laser therapy is not always effective. You may experience discomfort during the procedure, and laser can damage or scar the retina.
If all other treatments fail, your doctor may recommend a procedure that would replace the vitreous of your eye with a salt solution. The vitreous is a gel-like substance that helps to keep the round shape of your eye, and it can play a role in the development of macular edema. Replacing the vitreous can reduce the leakiness of the blood vessels in your eye to reduce the thickness of your retina and macula. This can prevent further vision loss or even improve vision for some patients. However, the effectiveness of surgery is uncertain and the subject remains controversial. Follow-up care and recovery times will depend on your condition.
Talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you. Ask how often you need to get treated to save your sight.
Once you are familiar with all your treatment options, talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your condition. Find out if injections are a good choice for you. As a DME patient, you can manage your condition. It’s important to know your options and become an active member of your care team!
Make sure you show up for your appointments. Be strong and CARRY ON!
Only you can protect your vision by staying on top of your treatment schedule! Keeping up with treatments is essential. Patients who consistently show up for their appointments have a better chance of keeping and/or regaining their vision. In clinical trials, regular treatments yield better results.
Do it for your loved ones, and do it for yourself!
Sticking with the plan might seem hard, especially when you have loved ones to care for and other priorities in life. Just remember: saving your sight and keeping your independence is TOTALLY WORTH THE EFFORT. Nobody wants to become a burden on their loved ones. Diabetic vision loss is preventable and treatable, and you can protect your independence through screening, monitoring, and keeping up with your treatments.
Now that you know how to save your vision, go to the next section to make your TO DO list!
If you have diabetes, we can help you can make a personalized “To-Do” list to protect your vision. Learn more in the next section!