Diabetic retinopathy is caused by prolonged elevated blood sugar levels. The condition can damage blood vessels in the eye, causing leakage and resulting in vision loss or, in some cases, blindness. In certain cases, vitrectomy may be recommended. This procedure involves the removal of the soft vitreous gel inside the eye, which is immediately replaced to maintain intraocular pressure. Our highly trained retina specialist, Dr. Sean Lalin, can evaluate your candidacy for the procedure and, if needed, perform a vitrectomy at our Morristown practice. To learn more about your diabetic retinopathy treatment options, schedule a consultation at our office today.
During a vitrectomy, Dr. Lalin will make a tiny incision in the eye, and insert small, specialized instruments to suction out the vitreous gel. Since scarring may form as a result of diabetic retinopathy, he may also remove any fibrous tissue along with the vitreous during surgery. In order to normalize pressure within the eye, Dr. Lalin will inject a silicone oil, saltwater solution, or a gas to replace the vitreous gel.
In some cases, vitrectomy can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Local or general anesthesia, or a combination of the two, will be used to ensure your total comfort. You will need to wear an eye patch for a short period following the procedure, and medicated eyedrops will be prescribed to guard against infection.
Evaluating Your Candidacy
The first three stages of diabetic retinopathy do not typically require treatment. Instead, they can be effectively controlled by closely monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure. Once the condition can no longer be controlled using conservative measures, Dr. Lalin will most likely recommend laser surgery to shrink abnormal blood vessels. If leakage continues, vitrectomy may be recommended. Vitrectomy can help restore vision compromised by severe bleeding, or blood that does not clear on its own after several months.
Benefits and Risks
Vitrectomy has been shown to greatly improve vision in those suffering with diabetic retinopathy. Left untreated, the condition can eventually cause blindness. In fact, diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common causes of blindness in American adults. Like any surgery, vitrectomy does carry some degree of risk, including:
- Increased intraocular pressure, especially in glaucoma sufferers
- Infection inside the eye
- Further bleeding
- Buildup of fluid in the clear covering of the eye
- Retinal detachment
The risk of these complications can be dramatically reduced when you choose a retina specialist like Dr. Lalin who regularly performs vitrectomy.
Learn More during a Consultation
By the time diabetic retinopathy presents symptoms (impaired vision), the disease has progressed significantly. If you suffer from diabetes, it is extremely important to attend regularly scheduled check-ups with an ophthalmologist. Although diabetic retinopathy cannot be fully cured, a timely, appropriate treatment can greatly reduce your risk of vision loss. In some cases, it can restore your eyesight. Whether you have received a diagnosis, or are seeking an explanation for changes to your vision, we can help. Schedule a consultation at our office today.